Story by LCpl Fatima Villatoro on 09/23/2019Could laughter help service members open up to real discussions of suicide and substance abuse?
One comedian hopes so.
2nd Marine Logistics Group hosted Bernie McGrenahan's stand-up comedy show Comedy is a Cure' at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Sept. 19, 2019. McGrenahan, who has toured more than 300 military bases, brings a different take on a difficult topic.
"I want to bring joy and laughter to the men and women in uniform, and develop a personal relationship through comedy," said McGrenahan. "In return, I hope they open their hearts and minds to what I have to say."
He explains suicide and substance abuse in the military are no laughing matter, and the comedy show is followed up by a serious training and prevention-based session.
"Seeing a person share their personal testimonies is what helped me make a change in my life," said McGrenahan. "I believe sharing your story with others has a higher percent chance of impacting them positively, rather than sitting through a PowerPoint presentation."
Lance Cpl. Lee Price, a 20-year-old motor transportation operator with Combat Logistics Battalion 2 attended the show.
"I think a lot of us don't take topics like this seriously, and Bernie's show is a way to complete our risk reduction and prevention briefs in a different manner," said Price. "I think it's a very effective method to teach valuable lessons about making the wrong choices and falling into substance abuse."
McGrenahan encourages Marines to seek help if they are dealing with drug or alcohol dependency, and wants them to stay motivated through the hardships.
"Bernie's story is very real, genuine and moving," said 1st Lieutenant Keith MacDonald, a combat engineer officer with 8th Engineer Support Battalion. "He's been able to turn that around and use it as a productive means to influence and show Marines the ramifications that come with their life choices."
Comedy is the Cure' is McGrenahan's way to help break the stigma that seeking help is a sign of weakness. He reassures Marines that asking for help demonstrates courage, one of the Marine Corps core values.
As a comedian for about 30 years, McGrenhan's goal is to entertain and impact his audience. He created Comedy is the Cure' 22 years ago in hopes of helping change the lives of those who watch his show.
"I don't want Marines to feel that I'm lecturing them," said McGrenahan. "I'm not the don't drink' guy, but have a plan if you do. And if some of my story resonates with you don't be afraid to make a change. It can help you save your career, a relationship and most importantly your life."
For more information and assistance with these issues visit www.mccslejeune-newriver.com/prevention/.