Comedy Shows Help To Combat The Increase In Suicide Rate Of Soldiers
Comedian Don Barnhart serves up the comedy to entertain the troops and help fight the increase in soldier suicides.
War and combat is one of the most stressful things a soldier will face and although they train for it, it’s not always easy. Right now, we are seeing a huge increase in suicides for the soldiers and I believe that comedy can help to relieve some of the pressure and stress these soldiers are facing.
First and foremost, I consider it an honor and privilege to be asked to entertain the troops. I’m extremely fortunate to able to make a living doing what I love and I feel we all have an obligation as an American citizen to support our troops in the best way we know how even if you object to the war itself.
Performing for the troops is different than performing at a regular comedy club in the states and once you’ve done a few tours, you are bonded with the soldiers and there truly is certain sense of camaraderie and understanding.
The reason we come over is to entertain and show our support and to let them know how much we care about them and the job they are doing and show how much we respect them and I think they have a certain respect for us coming over there. We’re all in it together as we eat the same food and have to deal with the same amenities. If there’s no hot water, then there is no hot water for everybody and sometimes it’s MREs (Meals Ready To Eat) for weeks at a time.
At first, I really didn’t understand the direct and positive impact doing shows for the troops had on their morale. It’s the greatest feeling after a show when everyone is coming up to thank us for entertaining them. So often, I meet a soldier who has been serving so long that he missed the birth of his child and only knows them through pictures. That’s not easy so making him laugh can help.
We are there doing our shows to show our gratitude to them! At the end of one show, the colonel brought all the comics up on stage to present us with a certificate of appreciation and their coin and all the men and women stood up and saluted us in thanks. It literally brought all four comics to tears. We couldn’t believe how grateful these young men and women were to us for coming over while we were there to show our thanks to them. It’s why I keep doing these tours over and over again.
The comedy shows are something to talk about, it breaks up the routine and monotony and laughter truly is the best medicine. Remember, some of these men and women over here haven’t been home in a long time and we’re the only contact they have with being home.
I truly feel that these men and women are my family and my job is to make them laugh and forget their troubles, sorrows and hardships for a little while. I’ve seen the toughest looking soldier laugh so hard he had tears rolling down his checks and after the show, everyone said that guy never even smiles. He came up after the show and gave me a bear hug that almost broke my rib cage but it was great to see him laughing.
Let’s face it; being away from your family and friends in a war zone is not a vacation or dream date. We all know the dangers and possibilities. It’s sort of an unspoken truth but it also creates and underlying tension and some people have a hard time dealing with it.
On one recent tour, we had a chaplain travel with us and he sat in the front row every show. It was a bit unsettling at first but then he explained that if the soldiers could see him laughing at even some of the questionable material that maybe he was approachable to their needs and problems and that he was just a regular guy. It was great because we included him in the show and pointed him out, teased him a bit but letting everyone know him by face. Sure enough, several days after I got back I received a letter from him telling us what a difference it made and that it really opened up a dialogue of communication for him and some of the soldiers. We’re all a part of the same team.
You might think it’s difficult to get laughter from sol