OSD Overseas Expansion Pack: Team Wales
Since the inception of Operation Supply Drop, the focus of our organization has to be to “Make Fun Where There is None” not just within the armed forces of the United States but also with our brothers and sisters serving in the military’s of allied nations. While it may seem as if we’ve been concentrating our efforts stateside, we’ve been slowly expanding our presence to overseas locations as can be seen with our Teams outreach in places like Canada, Wales, Germany, and Australia. Additionally, quite a few Supply Drops have been sent to allied units deployed all over the world.
One such unit is the British Army Ambulance Unit located in Brecon, Wales. A unique series of events occurred over the last few years that brought OSD’s presence to the small market town located just north of the chilly, mountainous Brecon Beacons. In 2011, Amy Darbyshire and Matt Faulkner, both “ambi” troops (similar to U.S. corpsmen or medics), were serving in the British Army but were also members of the British Army hockey team. While Amy had already served 4 years in the Reserve, Matt was fairly new to the service, only having entered within the last six months. However, both were skilled hockey players which was why they were selected to attend a tournament in sunny, warm San Diego, California. This event was were their friendship began and evolved; however, as many know, nothing is ever permanent in the military. Soon, they were both assigned to separate units and deployed elsewhere. But, with time, both of their paths crossed again when they were assigned to the Ambulance Unit in Brecon, Wales.
Just a few months before meeting up again in Wales, Amy discovered OSD through a gaming community she belonged to. She loved the cause and vision of the organization and decided she wanted to do more. In December 2015, after getting to know some members and staff at OSD, she tool the next step and asked how she could be of service. In short time, she stood up the Wales Team, based out of Brecon, and started spreading the word. It was during this time that Matt arrived in her unit and, having heard about what Amy was doing, decided to jump in head first as well. With both as the Veteran Co-Leads of the Wales Team, they’ve seriously expanded their outreach within the local community as well as their unit itself. Since the Wales’ Team creation in January 2016, they’ve already hosted an event, expanded their membership to over a dozen, and have plans for several more events in the near future. In addition, due to their military service and involvement, they’ve been able to get OSD to provide their unit with a Supply Drop which consists of an Xbox 360 Console, several headsets and controllers, a GAEMS portable display, and tons of games for their unit to enjoy.
“The best part of the Drops,” Amy states, “is that they are such a morale booster.” These “lads” are deployed with very little form of entertainment, dealing with a whole load of various issues from a broken bone to a gunshot wound (or worse), and have no way to de-stress. The camaraderie and motivational boost that comes with gaming is such a welcome pleasure which is sorely needed when dealing with such tragic circumstances.
Along with the Drop that Matt and Amy have presented to their fellow members, they are starting to plan a Mandatory Fun event which will be hosted in May to get the current members together and provide additional outreach within the community. Amy and Matt both know that their time in Brecon is limited, with an eventual change in duty station coming in the next few years. But their goal is to ensure that a fully established and capable Wales Team is in place to carry on the mission of “Making Fun Where There is None” in the foothills of Brecon Beacons. In the meantime, they know that they have many obstacles to overcome which they are tackling head on with the support of OSD.