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The VA Is Using Video Games To Help Disabled Vets Recover And Reconnect And More Local News

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The VA has started using video games to help recovery efforts of veterans with PTSD. Plus, Imperial County honors hometown hero and heavyweight boxing champion Andy Ruiz Jr.; the San Diego City Council will consider extending the lease of Campland, though the land was meant to be turned into habitat; and San Diego police are now enforcing a law that prevents people from sleeping in their cars.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Monday, June 24th I'm Deb Welsh. As you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up, the San Diego City Council will consider extending the lease of camp land on the bay and some VA medical centers have realized helping vets get back in the game literally can also help with their recovery.

Speaker 2: 00:18 When I learned about that, I was like my man call. Am I going to hold a controller of Jane

Speaker 1: 00:22 that more right after the break?

Speaker 2: 00:30 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:33 Thank you for joining us for San Diego News Matters. I'm Deb Welch, a part of mission bay called camp land on the bay is in a tug of war between environmentalists and those who support continuing and expanding its Lee's KPPS has. Tom Fudge has more on the issue that comes before the San Diego City Council today.

Speaker 3: 00:53 Camp land on the bay is an assortment of campsites and Rv hookups on the northern edge of mission bay. That environmentalist thought was on its way out. The mission bay park master plan shows the area being returned to a natural wetland, but today the city council will vote on a plan to extend camp plans lease by five years. The council may also decide to allow it to expand onto a former mobile home park next door called Deanza cove. Camp land on the bay has offered to clean up parts of the Deanza side, which is still littered with mobile homes. Gameplay and calls itself a place that offers families affordable access to the bay, but environmentalists say approval of the Camp Lan lease. We'll delay restoration of wetlands which will mar the health and water quality of mission bay. Tom Fudge k PBS news

Speaker 1: 01:40 a month after San Diego made it illegal for people to live in vehicles. The police department will now begin enforcing the ordinance. KPBS reporter Matt often says enforcement will be at the officer's discretion.

Speaker 4: 01:53 San Diego police say they will now begin to enforcing the law in the city from 9:00 PM to 6:00 AM and anytime near homes or schools. SDPD says over the last month, it's been working to educate officers and San Diego about the law. Some people are hoping the enforcement drives campers out of town while people living in their vehicles say it's unfair like Max Barry who stays in his RV.

Speaker 5: 02:14 This is going to stay patch for people who are living in these expensive apartments and wanting to get away from it. A lot of people are that way. They, they lead to, they live two paychecks away from, uh, from, from the street. And one day they hit the street and they say, well, you know, I don't want to be on the street so they get a motor home.

Speaker 4: 02:32 SDPD says it will practice progressive enforcement, other law, meaning they will give warnings and let people know about safe parking lots before issuing a ticket or making an arrest. Matt Hoffman KPBS news

Speaker 1: 02:44 earlier this month, imperial native Andy Ruiz Jr shock the world when he became the first ever of Mexican American heavyweight champion on Saturday. Ruiz Jr was honored with a parade in his hometown KPBS report or Max Adler tells us the champ is an inspiration to many in the close knit community.

Speaker 6: 03:04 It was still early in the morning and this border city, when people begin lining up along the parade route to get a chance to pay homage to the heavyset heavyweight champ, more than a few of them were related to hurries jr who goes by the nickname the destroyer. Victor Ponzi is where RISD juniors cousin

Speaker 7: 03:20 always buy he town, always, always, ever since he was lie, he's always, he's always been a destroyer

Speaker 6: 03:28 for the imperial valley home to a large Mexican American population reads juniors. Title reflects the hard work ethic of the community, explained his trainer Manny, roadblocks were we spent hours each day in the gym, winning fights on either side of the border.

Speaker 8: 03:43 It doesn't matter what, what part of the world you come from, what part of the United States come from. I come from a small town, not a lot of people, but when you have hopes and dreams, just anything in life is possible.

Speaker 6: 03:55 After the parade, Reese Jr was honored at his high school and given the key to the city Max, Orland, Adler, k PBS news.

Speaker 1: 04:03 When you think about all the challenges veterans phase after being wounded in the service, struggling to play video games may not be the first thing to come to mind, but some VA medical centers have realized helping fats get back in the game can also help with their recovery. Stephanie Calambini of the American Home Front project reports from Tampa, Florida, 26 year old Mike Montoursville is playing need for speed on an x box in a small room filled with flat screen TVs, virtual reality headsets and squishy blue arm chairs. It's as recreation therapist, Jamie Kaplan's office at the veteran's hospital in Tampa. Caplin's kicking back and one of those arm chairs, but mom Carville is in his wheelchair. He jokes with Kaplan about the rundown state of the car he's racing with, or you're going to be like, Oh man, this guy's driving beat up Dotson's to 80 or 200 take games. Seriously, if you can beat people at car card that shows you're serious game room. The Banter, the trash talk month or bill says those are some of his favorite things about gaming. The army veteran was paralyzed during training exercises and Afghanistan five years ago.

Speaker 7: 05:20 My spinal cord injury causes me to lac dexterity in my fingers and in my wrist. When I learned about that, I was like, Oh man, how am I going to hold a controller gain?

Speaker 1: 05:30 That's where Kaplan comes in. He taught mom or bill how to use the x box adaptive controllers. Microsoft recently donated to about two dozen VA medical centers. Montoursville uses his fists and risks to push oversized buttons and steer in attachable Joystick, but Kaplan says there's a variety of options.

Speaker 7: 05:50 You can configure it. Utilizing switches, utilizing joysticks to allow everybody from an amputee to

Speaker 9: 05:58 a stroke patient to a quadriplegic and the ability to gain

Speaker 1: 06:01 Caplin refers to recreation therapy, a sneaky therapy because patients don't realize they're working on things like motor and the brain function, but his ultimate goal is to help veterans reconnect with the activities they love and the people they love doing them with.

Speaker 9: 06:17 I had a patient, his brother came in and they were able to game together for the first time in three years and he had tears in his eyes and he said, I never thought I'd be able to do this again.

Speaker 1: 06:29 Manorville has a different kind of memory with his brother who we recently competed with all mine

Speaker 10: 06:34 and he's like, dude, there's no way that's you play on other end because I was just dominate again. He's like, you sure when you actually show them that you can kick their butt. They're like amazed of what you can do.

Speaker 1: 06:45 Gaming doesn't just help that spend time with friends and family for Marine Corps veteran Dave crouse, it connected him with a virtual support system when no one else could reach him. The former bomb squad technician lost his left hand and I in 2013

Speaker 11: 07:01 at two 30 in the morning when I've woken up with nightmares, um, re-examining every decision I ever made. That was where I turned to video games. The most

Speaker 1: 07:11 cross describes the modern came in community where strangers from all around the world can game together and form relationships through chat apps. And streaming services like twitch and discord. He works with stackup, a gaming charity for veterans and active duty military. The group organizes meetups for gamers and even launched a suicide prevention program through its discord channel.

Speaker 11: 07:33 Had some very heavy conversations over the playing a video games. This amazing thing happens psychologically when you're just hanging out. A lot of those barriers go down because now all we're doing, we're just shooting digital monsters.

Speaker 1: 07:45 Adaptive controllers make that community more accessible to disabled vets, but how accessible are the controllers? Microsoft charges about a hundred dollars, but that price climbs with various attachments. Jamey Caplan says the VA actually considers the controllers adaptive medical equipment and can purchase them for patients of justified. He says the BA understands it's not about just playing video games. It's improving the quality of a veteran's life. I'm Stephanie Calambini and Tampa. This story was produced by the American home for a project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and federal funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting. Thanks for listening to San Diego News matters. For more KPB as podcasts go to k pbs.org/podcasts.

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San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.