This post was written by Hatchet reporter Joseph Politano.
Friendships were born on the battlefield Saturday as fifty students – both veterans and civilians – joined together for a laser tag outing.
GW Veterans hosted the first “Operation Meet a Veteran” event at Sudden Combat in northern Virginia.
Yannick Baptiste, the president of GW Veterans, said they held the event to foster relationships between civilian students and veterans, who often live off-campus and do not get the chance to mingle with students outside of class projects.
“A lot of the networking that traditional students do happens in the dorm, or greek life, or other tertiary settings,” Baptiste said. “The goal here was to make sure that our students aren’t isolated and interact with the community.”
Students broke up into ten teams of five players, with an even mix of veteran and civilian students in each group. The day started out with a simple game with toy-like air-pumped shotguns. Participants used the laser-tag equivalent of an M4A1, a military-grade combat weapon, fit with realistic recoil, magazines a and real-time electronic kill trackers for a more advanced game.
Baptiste said that the event has been in the works for three years, originally intending to take students to a shooting range.
“We found that the liability and costs were high,” Baptiste said. “When we started venturing into laser tag, we found that it hit all the bullet points we were looking for: something competitive, something fun, and something that had team building.”
On the ride back to campus, GW Veterans offered everyone a party favor: MREs, the Army’s 2,500 calorie “Meal, Ready to Eat” complete with all the nutrients needed after a full day’s work.
Baptiste said that the event was a success in bringing together these two communities.
“Now, If we’re walking through Kogan Plaza, we’ll make contact, shake hands and talk to each other,” he said. “We really want to make sure we bridge the gap so that we’re not a unique, isolated populous here at GW.”