Comic Relief: Veterans stand up against PTSD
Laughter is often the best medicine, and some Long Island veterans are putting it to good use in their battles against post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
Patrick Donohue, of East Islip, suffered from PTSD after serving in the Army's 101st Airborne Division. He was in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011. He says that was tough, but he found that coming home was even tougher.
"I was alone, and that's kind of what I wanted to be," he recalls. Over time, he learned how to manage his PTSD, and is now helping others to do the same.
Donohue founded a nonprofit called Project9line. Its mission is to help veterans re-acclimate to society through entrepreneurship and the arts. One of those arts is stand-up comedy.
Under the tutelage of comedians John Consoli and Brian Cutaia, a group of 12 veterans enrolled in an eight-week comedy crash course designed specifically for them by Project9line.
Dubbed the "Veterans Comedy Assault," the veterans joked about their time in the service, as well as their struggles with anxiety and depression.
The bond between the comics is so strong, that there was no backstage presence during a recent Bethpage show. Instead, each vet was out in the audience, laughing and cheering on their fellow performers.
"We're here to make people feel good, and if feeling good means listening, or if it means holding a hand, or making people laugh, I'm all in," said veteran Manny Erias.