By Cpl. Lee Hyokang (IMCOM)December 12, 2012
YONGSAN GARRISON, REPUBLIC OF KOREA -- U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan hosted a creative way of teaching substance abuse and suicide prevention as Servicemembers had the opportunity to get out of routine computer presentations and learned the lessons through Bernie McGrenahan's comedy show, Dec. 10.
"The comedy show was not only fun, but also had meaning behind it," said Pvt. Shaquon Whitaker, a Soldier with the 142nd Military Police Brigade. "How he shared his personal story to make us stay away from alcohol and drugs and how he tried to keep everyone around us together as a family… it was just so touching and beneficial."
Alcohol and drug substances abuse and suicide prevention programs are often difficult sessions to keep the trainees interested and make them productive lessons with the information at the same time.
Jocelynn LaShier, suicide prevention program manager for USAG Yongsan's Army Substance Abuse Program, tried hard to come up with innovative way to look for a fresh angle to maintain her target audiences' attention after getting some feedback that said the programs garrison offer often aren't as exciting as the can be offered.
"This is one of the responses that Eighth Army provided as a way of innovative and creative form of learning about suicide prevention and education," Lashier said. "It was organized because of feedback from Soldiers saying that the trainings are always in same pattern and sometimes it is boring."
As the show title, 'Happy Hour Comedy with a Message,' explains, part one of the show focused more on fun: Making Soldiers relaxed and entertained. McGrenahan prepared them for his personal life story on alcohol and drug uses and suicide.
He started grasping the audiences' attention even more by revealing his personal experiences. Once addicted to alcohol, McGrenahan had a hard time finding jobs due to his DUI arrests and also serving in county jail for six months.
He also spoke about his 19-year-old younger brother, Scott, who committed suicide while intoxicated and emphasized how drinking problems can ruin lives.
"I don't even know what it feels like to live overseas, serving our country without being with family but I know it is difficult," McGrenahan said. "So, interacting with your buddies more and always remembering that asking for help is a sign of courage."
McGrenahan visits several areas in Korea with his therapeutic show to inspire and train Servicemembers to defend the safety of the United States.