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Veteran-owned non-profit uses game of chess to help community

Posted at 11:39 PM, Aug 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-27 16:51:38-04

TEMPLE, Texas — The game of chess is not only one of skill but one of intense concentration.

It's that aspect of the game that helped retired Navy veteran Michael Lenox after losing partial brain function due to a stroke.

”Chess actually was one of the main things that helped me get my brain back,” said Lenox. “I had a large section of my brain that died, about the size of a baseball or softball. It varies depending on which doctor you talk to.”

After seeing how much it helped him and working with the VA in Illinois Chess Vets was born.

”Chess vets is a 501C3,” said Michael Lenox. “Our mission is to teach basic chess and help people learn chess. We started this for veterans but now it's for the whole community and we include veterans.”

With the help of his wife Lia, they work to bring the benefit and love of the game of chess to the Central Texas community.

”We have YouTube videos that'll teach you how to play chess in 5 minutes,” said Lia Lenox. “Just get your basics down and start from there. You're not going to be a grandmaster overnight, just have fun with it.”

Chess Vets also works with other nonprofits to help veterans and active-duty military in any way they can, including sending magnetic chess sets in care packages for deployed troops.

”Something they can take in the field with them or stick in their ruck,” said Michael Lenox. “Basically, they can play a game and when the Sergeant says gear up and they have to go somewhere else, they can close it up and keep the game in progress. Not only that but know whose move it is. So, when they get to their next destination, they can continue their game.”

Having moved to Texas during the pandemic they haven't been able to really expand here.

Now that things have calmed down, that is exactly what they are trying to do but, they need the community's help.

”Volunteers are always a great help ... and donations to get these magnetic chess sets out to our troops overseas and stuff,” said Lia Lenox.

Chess Vets is also trying to connect with other local nonprofits to continue serving veterans in the greater Central Texas community.