Soldiers experience 'Happy Hour' of safety education
July 10, 2014
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Comedian Bernie McGrenahan presented his "Happy Hour" show, "Comedy is the Cure," inside Fort Eustis' Jacobs Theater, July 2, to communicate the importance safe, smart decision-making.
"Happy Hour" is a touring risk-reduction and prevention training program that uses comedy as a means to communicate safety messages. The show at Fort Eustis was sponsored by the Army Substance Abuse Program, and opened with 30 minutes of stand-up comedy, followed by McGrenahan's personal testimony of high-risk drinking, sexual assault prevention, DUI reduction and suicide prevention.
After getting the Soldiers relaxed and laughing, McGrenahan took the audience step-by-step through his path to high-risk drinking and drug abuse. After three DUI arrests at the age of 26, McGrenahan said he spent six months in jail.
"The only person that came to visit me every weekend was one woman -- my mom," said McGrenahan. "Those friends that I partied with who said they'd always have my back, not one of them visited me while I was in jail."
McGrenahan continued sharing his story with Soldiers, and mentioned after moving home once being released from jail, he discovered his 19-year-old brother had begun partying heavily. After an exchange of words, McGrenahan left to drink at a bar, later receiving news that his brother had committed suicide.
"My brother chose not to get help," said McGrenahan. "I pray you look out for one another, recognize the signs, and care about one another."
U.S. Army Spc. Marica Smith, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), said the format of the program was extremely effective, and the use of humor helped create a relatable atmosphere.
"He put a comedic twist on life events to lighten the mood, but also maintained the importance of the underlying messages surrounding suicide and alcohol abuse," she said.
McGrenahan said his hope is by sharing his personal journey through the "Happy Hour" program, Service members will remain strong and resilient, no matter what work stressors or relationship issues may occur in their lives.