By Buddy Blouin
The U.S. military is a workplace. But while each branch’s end goal is a safer world for Americans through potential and literal warfare, there are still similarities in military and civilian workplaces in which common ground can be found. For example, pranking your colleagues, a sentiment that is known all too well throughout various industries as a way to break the tension and have a good laugh. Only... in an office, you’re a lot more likely to find a cubicle wrapped up with gift paper than you are to see an accolade shot into space. The Call of Duty Endowment Trophy was sent to space as a prank after being won by the U.S. Space Force (USSF).

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What Is Call of Duty Endowment?

The Call of Duty Endowment (CODE) is a non-profit organization that was created by the CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, and Brian Kelly, the chairman of Activision Blizzard’s board of directors in 2009. It was founded in an effort to assist Veterans of the U.S. in advancing to meaningful civilian careers after serving. Soon after, it would expand to also help U.K. Veterans. The inspiration came when younger Veterans were struggling to find work after protecting the United States following the conflicts stemming from 9/11. Other non-profits enjoy funding from the Endowment that helps those leaving the military transition into the civilian workforce. Since getting started, CODE has worked with notable charities and major companies, such as the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Deloitte. Together, these organizations have helped service members transitioning find gainful employment once entering civilian life. Here are the core grantees that work with CODE today:
  • Hire Heroes USA.
  • JVS SoCal.
  • Operation: Job Ready Veterans.
  • Salvation Army Community Integration Services.
  • Still Serving Veterans.
  • The Forces Employment Charity (RFEA).
  • US VETS, Veterans Inc.
  • Vet Jobs Powered by Corporate America Supports You.
  • Walking With The Wounded.
  • Workshops for Warriors.
Funded by donations from gamers, individuals, corporate partners, and Activision Blizzard itself, 100% of the donations go to Veterans, as Activision Blizzard handles the Endowment’s operational expenses.

The CODE Bowl

Esports continues to grow in popularity. Whether it's playing them or watching streamers engage in their favorite games, there's a lot of attention being paid to video games of all sorts these days. As a way to boost morale, build teams, hone skills, and increase recruitment, branches have begun their own esports teams. This is what helped birth the CODE Bowl. A collaboration between the Call of Duty Endowment and the U.S. Army Esports team began in 2019. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was the game of choice where streamers raised funds for CODE through their channels while raising awareness about military service. Since then, in-game items for purchase, such as the Call of Duty Endowment Protector Pack, have become available, and the proceeds go to CODE. The first Call of Duty Endowment Bowl would go to the U.S. Army, but it wouldn’t take long before the Guardians would make their mark. Entering its first inter-service competition, the USSF won it all in the second CODE Bowl.

The USSF CODE Trophy Was Sent to the Stars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47Fh1sza-Ec So, the Call of Duty Endowment and CODE Bowl aside, let’s get back to pranks. However, this directly involves the trophy teams are fighting for on the virtual battlefield. But to understand the connection, you have to realize a bit more about the culture surrounding these events. “Come and get it” is a phrase you’ll hear in various competitive environments, and the U.S. military is far from an exception. This is why it was put on the trophy once it was won. If you aren’t a college football fan or in the military itself, you might also need to understand the rivalry between the Army and the Navy. The Army-Navy game is steeped in history and rivalry, including the pettiness of each team looking for inventive ways to steal the other’s mascot. These traditions would come together and create a new idea: What would happen if someone took the Space Force’s CODE trophy and launched it into the heavens? Dan Goldenberg, Executive Director of the Call of Duty Endowment, would agree. “What would be the hardest place to ‘come and get it?' Space,” Goldenberg said. It’s really a win-win situation for everyone involved. Thank you, Guardians, for your service, but there’s no denying that the youngest and smallest branch of service isn’t on the same playing field as the others. This means instead of having people dedicated to full-time esports, they have to fulfill their jobs and then compete with literally some of the best gamers in the world. It also means less recognition. This stunt, conducted by a private contractor in the U.K., is bringing attention to the USSF and showcasing they’re more than capable of hitting a 360 no scope any day.

Somehow, the Call of Duty Endowment Trophy Survived

Insanely enough, the concerns about the trophy surviving ended up being needless. The CODE Bowl trophy survived its trip into space! Now, the hype is building before teams meet for CODE Bowl III, which will be held on December 16, 2022, in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Space Force will be looking to retain its reign but faces stiff competition from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, British Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force. If you’re looking for action, be sure to tune into the Call of Duty channels on both Twitch and YouTube to catch the competition. The Call of Duty Endowment is proving parents throughout the U.S. wrong about video games not leading to jobs. Fortunately, this means meaningful employment for our heroes, both serving America and the Veteran population.

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