Activision Blizzard will make a $1 million donation to unemployed military vets through their Call of Duty Endowment (CODE,) a charity foundation intended to help veterans find gainful employment.
According to a Washington Post article published yesterday, the CODE (which coincidentally makes its first donation concurrently with the Modern Warfare 2 release) is meant to support organisations which train veterans to operate in a profit-driven industry after years of public service. A 2008 Veteran's Affairs study cited by the Post claims that veterans are more comfortable working in public positions and have difficulty adjusting to a career in private industry, in part because "service members perform their duties within tightly defined skill sets and are not working towards creating a profit during their military tenure."
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick bemoans the disproportionate unemployment rate among veterans, claiming that society does not do enough to support our armed forces when they retire from active duty. "The joblessness rate that [veterans] should have should be far less than the national average, not more," said Kotick. "How do you expect people to actually join the military if when they leave the military they can't integrate back into the free market they're supposed to be protecting?"
Honest or not, statistics gathered by public and private researchers support Kotick's concern. U.S. unemployment rates finally breached 10 percent this month (the first time since 1983,) yet in 2008 more than 18 percent of recent veterans (1-3 years since discharge) were unemployed. That's almost double the national average, and organizations like CODE intend to assist government aid programs by giving veterans the training and connections they need to start a new career. To that end CODE is funneling $125,000 to help the Paralyzed Veterans of America build a vocational rehab center.
Activision has a history of associating with the U.S. military (the publisher regularly makes donations of games and consoles to service members through the USO) and now they've called on those connections to bring a number of high-profile military leaders out of retirement to join CODE's Board of Directors, including Army General James Marks. Activision's glamorization of modern warfare may be controversial, but it's refreshing to see a games publisher written up in a national newspaper for something other than sex, blood or violence.