What are we doing about the mental hell and wellness of our vets? Not enough. The number of veterans that take their lives each day continues to rise. There’s too much talk about awareness and not enough talk about prevention.
Retired Marine Captain Donny O’Malley dedicated his life to suicide prevention when his friend and fellow Marine, Art Lazukin, shot himself in the head. Art was introduced to O’Malley’s darkly humorous blog when they served together in the Wounded Warrior Battalion, and one day texted O’Malley, “Your stuff is the only thing that makes me laugh hysterically. You’re doing God’s work. Keep being raw and honest, and don’t ever stop being yourself.” At Lazukin’s wake, O’Malley decided to give his death a purpose.
A few months later, O’Malley released a book that became a cult classic amongst combat veterans. Soon after the book, he started the nonprofit, Irreverent Warriors, which hosts events that bring vets together through humor and camaraderie. Both efforts have impacted the lives of over 100,000 veterans. Humor became the catalyst for breaking down the emotional walls of military service members, and for facilitating connection between veterans. “Healing through Humor” became the driving force of his crusade, because, in the military, laughter is often used to soothe pain.
After bringing together over 30,000 veterans at Irreverent Warriors events, he applied the principles of humor, camaraderie, and community to start a television network for the military, with the vision of bringing them together through laughter.
They capture the authentic military experience through the lens of dark and irreverent humor that most civilians might find politically incorrect, and offensive.
However, their core audience, enlisted post-9/11 veterans, have an unabashed love for VET Tv. They appreciate stories that reflect their actual military experience, and that someone has the guts to make comedy out of the most serious issues the military community faces.
Their shows have a positive message, since the intent of the network is to shape military culture for the better to improve mental health, and build community outside of the service.
In an effort to use their platform to improve mental health, VET Tv spoke with eight mental health professionals including New York Times best-selling trauma researcher and author of The Body Keeps the Score, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, to get their unbiased opinion on the role that humor plays in healing.
What started as a research project evolved into the VET Tv web series, “Mental Hell and Wellness.” This web series explains the science behind the therapeutic effects of dark humor and presents some of the tools needed to undo the brainwashing of the military experience. This new series is available for free at VeteranTv.com.
“What the military leaves out is that they create great soldiers, but when you leave, nobody really helps you to systematically become a member of society.” said Dr. van der Kolk. “Comedy is a great way to open up people’s minds because you show the absurdity of it all.”
VET Tv’s highest-rated show, “A Grunt’s Life,” presents counterinsurgency warfare with the same sense of absurdity and irreverence that the warfighters feel as they’re fighting it. This is the type of content that post 9/11 military service members didn’t even know they wanted, but now that they have it, they can’t get enough. “You put me in war to be a savage beast, which you helped trained me to be, and then you tell me I’m not okay,” said Psychotherapist, Lauren Rich.
“Humor is this generation’s gateway towards better mental health,” said John Acevedo, CEO and President of VET Tv. “We must do everything we can to reduce veteran suicide, and if dark humor is working on a mass scale to bring veterans together and facilitate needed conversation, how can someone devalue the results?”
VET Tv’s critics (you know who you are) do their best to downplay VET Tv’s value to the community, but they cannot argue with the results.
No vets were harmed in the making of this ad. We’d love to work with you to improve the mental health and wellness of our vets. Please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental Hell and Wellness Series:
Introducing Mental Hell and Wellness: The Path Out of Hell
The Why Behind The Mental Hell and Wellness Series
What Are We Doing About The Mental Hell & Wellness Of Our Vets?
Mental Hell and Wellness: That Awkward Talk (Part 1)
Breakdown: Lauren Rich Ep 1
Breakdown: Lauren Rich Ep 2
Breakdown: Lauren Rich Ep 3
Breakdown: Lauren Rich Ep 4
Breakdown: Lauren Rich Ep 5
Breakdown: Lauren Rich Ep 6
Breakdown: Lauren Rich Ep 7
Breakdown: Lauren Rich Ep 8
Interview: Dr. Abby Cobey
Interview: Dr. Nancy Lin
Interview: Dr. Michael Terry
Interview: Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk