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When Upper Deck asked me if I would be interested in sharing my story on how collecting cards has helped me after I returned home from service, I jumped at the chance. If I could reach just one fellow veteran it would be worth it to me. Before I start though, I have to mention how much I value Upper Deck’s interest in my story. Some companies talk about how they value veterans, but what do they do for them? Over the years Upper Deck has proven that not only are they the collector’s choice, but the military’s choice when it comes to trading cards. They have supported veterans and current service members on Veteran’s Day, they have supported Operation Gratitude that sends care packages to the military, they have honored veterans like Doc Jacobs and WWII vets with their own trading cards, they have supported Defending the Blue Line which is another military charity for families and donated to Veteran’s Village during the holidays.
So, what is my story? I had to retire from the U.S. Air Force after 22 years of service due to medical conditions. I got hurt really bad and it had nothing to do with my three tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The injury left me a “hot mess” both physically and emotionally. With a short temper (doesn’t help being of Irish decent) and chronic pain, I had to “find myself” and develop some strategies to keep calm. I had to find something I could do to keep my mind off the demons that lay dormant in my head. I found on YouTube there were thousands of videos of people opening up trading card packs, boxes and cases which helped renew my desire to collect again.
I remember the day I opened a 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card and how excited I was. My friend, check that, my brother— Harry Monds, had a place in base housing and we broke the box out there. That will always be my favorite card and he will always be my favorite player. Fast forward to today and I find trading card opening has evolved even further with Upper Deck e-Pack™. What I would have given to have been able to open packs while I was deployed online, it’s so cool for military today! I enjoy collecting my favorite teams and it gives me focus. I know it seems silly, reverting to what we did when we were kids, but it provides me with a great stress reliever. Getting excited by ripping open packs allows you to feel like yourself again! Just trust me when I tell you it can be therapeutic. This hobby has really helped me take my mind off any issues or concerns, even if for a little bit, and that has been very helpful to say the least. And I’ve found a true comradery with others in the hobby that has helped me connect with others which was difficult when I returned home from duty.
Being a big Cincinnati Red’s and Griffey fan, T-Bone holds up one of his prized possessions, an Upper Deck Authenticated Ken Griffey Jr. signed jersey!
A lot of vets suffer and most of them suffer in silence. We are a proud group of people who are trained to hide the pain. If you are suffering from post traumatic stress or other issues from your time serving, you need to find a healthy outlet for that and something to take your mind of those dark thoughts. For me I’ve found the fun in the hobby of collecting cards again and spending time with other collectors. One of my goals is to one day be an official YouTuber for Upper Deck. We will see what happens there, but I’ve found tremendous relief from this hobby and I think you may as well!
Travis “T-Bone” Arthofer is a proud father of four daughters and married to another military member Lia Arthofer. Being a collector since 1985 he has collected cards, memorabilia, and everything in between. After retiring from the Air Force after 22 years of service “TBone” decided YouTube would be his method for getting the word out for his sports and geek passions and has a real love for Upper Deck!