Top ranked VFW in Texas turns to tech, gaming to bring in new generation of veterans

More military retirees drawn to video games during down time

VFW 8541 was recently ranked the best VFW in Texas, and now the post is staying ahead of the game as they shift towards technology.

SAN ANTONIO – VFW 8541 was recently ranked the best VFW in Texas and now the post is staying ahead of the game with a new shift towards technology.

They hope a new high tech, high performance gaming facility will draw in a new generation of veterans.

“My father passed away in 2003 and my last tour was 2007 2008 I went through that hard time and the veteran‘s here, well I got a lot of good guidance from them,” VFW 8541 Post commander Bill Smith said.

VFW volunteers honor fallen soldiers in show of solidarity

For Smith, like many of the members, the VFW is a big part of his life.

Smith was active duty for 18 years, and served three tours overseas. But in his last, he noticed a change in downtime activities.

“Halo, Fortnite, Madden 2000, they played a lot of games during their down time, so a lot of the newer vets that are coming out and retiring they are drawn to gaming,” Smith said.

He explained the draw of video games as a way to de-stress.

“It’s an escape, it’s a chance to playing with people across the world, you’re playing with all kinds of people and it gives you an opportunity to get away from what’s actually happening,” Smith said.

A room at the VFW will soon be transformed into a high tech, high performance gaming facility — and it is set to open on the fourth of July.

VFW gaming image 2 (KSAT)

“Twelve to twenty machines, we’re just gonna be installing six screens to start, because of the social constraints of COVID-19 and six feet,” Sam Elizondo, co-owner of LFG cybercafe said.

LFG Cybercafe is a San Antonio video gaming facility, and Elizondo is working with the VFW on their plans. The plan isn’t just TVs and video game consoles.

“Mood lighting, with LED strip modern obviously, you know re-imagine what the VFW can be,” Elizondo said.

And the high tech facility also includes top tier internet access, something veterans may be lacking.

“Veterans that are coming to my café already are just looking for solid Internet access, the entrepreneurs, they looking for a space to upload or communal workspace,” Elizondo said.

About the Authors:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.

Azian Bermea is a photojournalist at KSAT.