Updated: November 11, 2019 07:38 PM
Created: November 11, 2019 03:27 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Battlefields 2 Ballfields is a national non-profit foundation that helps veterans from all branches of the military find work as sports officials in their local communities at no cost to the veteran.
The Rochester area has one of the highest concentrations of veterans participating in Battlefields 2 Ballfields in the country. The impact of Battlefields 2 Ballfields is felt by the families of the veterans, like the Buczeks.
On a quiet fall night, the Buczek family — all three kids, their dogs, mom Kristie, and dad Andrew — gathers to play a board game. This is one of the rare quiet nights for them because Andrew wears many hats.
"You get a sense of togetherness, accountability," Andrew said. "It's indescribable."
Andrew served three tours of duty as a Marine. The last was in Iraq before he came home to finish his college degree — all the while holding a full-time job, coaching his kids' football team, and this year, becoming a youth football referee.
"I'm really shocked with how well he was able to handle adding something to his plate," Kristie said.
And the added paycheck as a referee has meant more family activities for the Buczeks.
"I think it's been a great addition to our family," Kristie said. "I thought for sure it would pull him away from the family. If anything, it's added to it."
Battlefields 2 Ballfields can also be a saving grace. News10NBC first shared Jamaison Pilgreen's story in the spring of 2017. He battled depression and PTSD following two decades of military service — challenges that his fiancé Lisa Deutsch witnessed firsthand.
"For the first two years of our relationship, I held my breath," Lisa said. "Emotionally, he was struggling."
And then Jamaison found Battlefields 2 Ballfields. This is his third year as a referee, and he's officiated three sports.
"I saw something change in him," Lisa said. "When he was running around doing the calls, he had a huge smile on his face."
"I'm not living in a dark cloud, my life has purpose, things work out better, and I'm not negative about stuff," Jamaison said.
He is the one running on the sidelines, but Lisa has walked by his side through his journey.
"I've seen what she's dealt with, what she's walked with me through, and I couldn't have done it without her," Jamaison said. "I wouldn't be where I'm at without her."
"I'd like to say to other vets, check it out because it might be a good fit for you like it was for Jamaison," Lisa said. "For those who are struggling to find something that gives them a sense of being a part team, don't wait, do it now."
Battlefields 2 Ballfields accepts veterans year round. Click here for information on how to join.
Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company