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Military Basketball Association seeks to end stigma surrounding mental health

Facing invisible wounds on the court, MBA seeks to end stigma surrounding mental health
Facing invisible wounds on the court, MBA seeks to end stigma surrounding mental health 02:11

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The Military Basketball Association (MBA) is holding its Atlantic Coastal Regional Conference Playoffs at Temple University's McGonigle Gym this weekend. 

"Some of the post-traumatic injuries that they may have had while they were deployed, this league serves as an outlet for them," said Major Mike Meyers, founder and commissioner of the MBA league. 

The MBA was formed in 2017 by Meyers and First Sergeant Angel Acevedo, two retired U.S. Army combat veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. 

Following their return back home, both men experienced senior officers committing suicide and men under their command taking their lives too as they dealt with the ravages of war and what they saw and did during their tours of duty. 

"I know their hardships and I know what basketball does for them," said Joseph Mends-Cole, head coach of the Montford Point Marines. "It allows these young players to really fight through adversity. It also shows them a way to transverse those things or some of those issues they may have off court." 

Mental health and suicide are known to disproportionately impact military veterans. 

The most recent report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found that suicide was the second leading cause of death for veterans under 45 years old.

"Really this is like everything to me; I look forward to this," said Sgt. Jurmond Cattenhead, point guard for the Montford Point Marines. "There have been times when coming from work has been rough or you can have family problems. Once you step on that court and you are around your brothers and sisters, it gives you that breath of fresh air." 

In the six years since the league began, there have been no suicides among their players or coaches. 

"I can speak for myself, I suffered from an adjustment disorder getting out of the Marine Corps after eight years," said Marine veteran Aaron Douglas, shooting guard for the Montford Point Marines. "It gets a lot of stress off your shoulders and it's a lot of fun when you come together." 

Veteran Affairs is now partnering with the league and using the game as a way to focus on the invisible wounds veterans face.

Meyers and Acevedo are bringing their MBA World Championship Finals to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Memorial Day Weekend in a thrilling double-header at Temple University's Liacouras Center.

The men's finals will be televised on CBS Sports Network. Regional conference play concludes in Philadelphia with the other regional conference games having been completed.

Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster for the double-header. 

The women's tipoff is at 5 p.m. and the men's is at 7 p.m. for just $21 per seat.

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