NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — More than 200,000 U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The Veterans Administration has largely relied on therapy and medications to treat PTSD, but on Long Island a new veterans group says humor is the best medicine.
“Growing up I had lots of energy and it was very apparent to me when in 7th grade they made my mom sit behind me for like 3 months,” Patrick Donohue told CBS2’s Jill Nicolini.
Donohue survived his tour of duty in Afghanistan, but came home with psychic scars from things that he witnessed.
For Donohue, getting up on stage to perform stand up comedy on Saturday night in Bethpage was nearly as nerve-wracking.
“Anxiety is the number one factor, you know it takes a lot to get up there on stage,” he said.
Donohue founded Project 9 Line for returning Long Island veterans, the non-profit volunteer organization uses the arts, including stand up comedy, to help veterans overcome the trauma of war.
“They’re actually being paid to perform here tonight, so they are now working comics,” Brian Cutaia said.
About a dozen veterans have been taught stand up by professional comic John Consoli, who is also a veteran.
“Most of us have heard the term foxhole humor, so maybe take some of the dark things they’ve experienced, look at them from a different perspective, and maybe laugh in the face of those things,” Consoli said.
Army veteran Ron Santoro helped lead the invasion of Baghdad in 2003. Now, his wife Emily says their marriage has been liberated by laughter.
“It gives me a purpose as well to see him having an outlet because for the past 10 years he hasn’t,” Emily said.
It’s a real life remedy that has veterans laughing their way to recovery.
Project 9 Line is now looking for other venues for these stand up comic veterans to perform. The vets are paid to perform as professionals.