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Combat Veterans

VET TV Strives To Turn Mental Hell Into Mental Health

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Retired San Diego Marine relies on dark humor to promote healing of wounded warriors

Preventing veteran suicide is the newest mission of retired San Diego Marine Capt. Donny O’Malley.

To do it, he’s capitalizing on a theme popularized by the long-running TV series “MASH” — military humor. Except O’Malley’s humor is not only irreverent, it is very dark and directly targets post 9/11 veterans.

O’Malley’s real name is Danny Maher, but he adopted the pseudonym Donny O’Malley in 2015 as the author of a satirical memoir, “Embarrassing Confessions of a Marine Lieutenant,” and creator of military parody videos. He subsequently launched a nonprofit group called Irreverent Warriors to help vets work through their emotional and mental trauma.

As a wounded warrior himself, O’Malley knows whereof he speaks. Although not torn apart by enemy fire, he suffered numerous physical injuries and was a member of Camp Pendleton’s Wounded Warrior Battalion.

While there, he began writing a cathartic blog that attracted a fan base. One of his followers was a young Camp Pendleton Marine who had lost both legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan. O’Malley recalls getting a text message from him one day: “You’re doing God’s work. Your stories are the only thing in my life that can make me laugh hysterically. Don’t stop being raw and honest and never stop being youself.”

The Marine later killed himself. At his wake, O’Malley shed silent tears as the young man’s mother wailed over his casket, screaming: “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”

“I have to take action,” O’Malley vowed. “Maybe I can give her a reason why: He died so others can live.”
Ever since, he has been determined to do everything he can to prevent similar tragedies.

In 2017, he raised nearly $300,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to launch a video streaming service called Veteran TV, often referred to as VET Tv. Its motto: “The only TV network the U.S. government wants to ban, but can’t.”

O’Malley’s goal is to unite and uplift spirits through comedy skits that spotlight the dark secrets that veterans tend to keep locked inside.

For instance, one skit masqueraded as an infomercial for a night terror neck brace. It was designed for the wives of vets suffering from PTSD to protect them when their hallucinating husbands started strangling them in bed at night. O’Malley knows vets whose night terrors have helped destroy as many three marriages.

The sketch is delivered in a way to make viewers laugh hysterically. “If the humor is done right, you can get somebody to re-process an experience with a new emotion associated with it,” he says. Adding humor to the feelings of pain and sadness can be a step toward re-wiring the brain and jump-starting the healing process. Plus, a vet will often text a fellow vet about the comedy skit and build liaisons.

Initially, O’Malley played a key role in writing the VET Tv skits “Kill, Die, Laugh” and “A Grunt’s Life,” based on an infantry platoon in Afghanistan in 2008. Now he manages a team of writers.

VET Tv founder Donny O'Malley interviews combat trauma specialist Lauren Rich for a new mental health series.

On Veteran’s Day, the streaming network is launching a new, free web series, “Mental Hell and Wellness.” O’Malley serves as host and interviews psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professions about traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia and other combat-related symptoms.

COVID has made a bad situation worse because it separates people. “Social isolation is the one thing every vet I’ve known who killed themselves had in common at the end,” O’Malley says. “They were alone, living inside their own head, without a human connection.”

His nonprofit organization has been encouraging social interaction digitally — Zoom calls, playing games online — and two weekly Facebook Live sessions were added to VET Tv programming.

Humor remains the medicine of choice and offers a way to monetize the operation because people are willing to pay $5 a month for a subscription when entertainment is incorporated. Only three years after launching, the network has grown to 90,000 subscribers and 25 employees, O’Malley says.

The 14-segment “Mental Hell and Wellness” series, however, is being offered free to anyone on the VeteranTV.com website.

“Almost two dozen veterans are killing themselves every day,” O’Malley notes. “There’s a lot of talk about awareness, but the focus needs to be on prevention. We have to help someone put the gun down and choose to live, as opposed to ending it all.”

A young Alex Trebek aboard the U.S.S. Midway aircraft carrier while on a USO tour in 1988.

Trebek remembered: The passing of “Jeopardy” game show host Alex Trebek after a long battle with cancer triggered some U.S.S. Midway memories.

Before the aircraft carrier became a museum in San Diego, Trebek came aboard during a USO tour when the ship was homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Former crew member Perry Eichem Joiner recalled the 1988 visit and posted a photo of a young and authoritative Trebeck sitting at the news anchor desk in the KMID-TV studio where ship’s journalists broadcast newscasts for the ship’s crew. R.I.P., Alex Trebek.

By DIANE BELLCOLUMNIST NOV. 9, 20207:05 PM

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/

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Combat Veterans

Azazel: A Marine Veteran That Has Used His Creativity To Battle P.T.S.D

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Former Marine Azazel has been turning his life around with music as the forefront.

Azazel is an on the rise musician who holds a ton of accolades already within his musical career. Azazel is a lyricist from New York City who has served the U.S as a former Marine. His musical talent is unmatched. His lyrical delivery is diabolical, clever and raw. After serving in the USMC Azazel embraced music as a creative outlet to help control his P.T.S.D. As he kept dabbling into his creativity he soon found his sound. He began taking his career seriously after the government shutdown caused by COVID-19. Azazel has performed in Austin, Texas at SXSW, has been featured in a Netflix feature film and is on his way to 100,000 streams on Spotify. He is hitting some major milestones and reaching new goals daily. 

Azazel is a role model and a hero to our nation. His musical ability is versatile and is gaining him a new take on life outside of the military. This year he is focused on his collaborative album that will have features from other independent artists and he hopes to perform again at SXSW. He is a humble and inspiring artist. His story is motivational. For anyone striving to follow his career path he states “ Do not take things personal and do not be easily offended.” Wise words from this combat veteran. Azazel has a new video now on YouTube called “Armageddon”. This video shows his raw and gritty lyrical delivery. You can also stream his latest debut E.P “First 2 Fight” now on all digital streaming platforms.

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Combat Veterans

Combat Veteran Santiago B Gil Masters the E-Com Industry

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We had a conversation with Santiago B.Gil, a serial entrepreneur who has been in the e-commerce field for four years. He is also the owner of an e-commerce bulldog, the company that helps veterans and civilians find their stream of income and is not dependent on institutions that can let them down.

The American consumer is sinking in debt. So far, almost every household has an average credit card debt of $8,398. The financial situation does not appear like it will get any better, as 49% expect to live from paycheck to paycheck. Even as we owe veterans our respect and gratitude, the poverty rate for veterans aged 18–34 years old is getting higher than that of ages 35–54. But how do we break this financial situation that keeps increasing exponentially?

About Santiago B. Gil

Santiago is a former member of the Marine Corps. He graduated from USC at the university of southern California. “I was working while going to school. I never got the chance to come home and continued with all-nighters. I would go for three days without any sleep, not seeing my family. This lack of time for my family is what put the desire in me to create my lifestyle. I missed so much of my kids’ life, baseball, and softball games,” he says.

According to Santiago, being in the Marine Corps helped him believe in himself. The Marines instilled long life values that go beyond measure.

When Santiago left the Corps, he found himself struggling to meet the needs of his family. He decided to venture into the e-commerce business. However, he realized that developing a business online is not as easy as it looks.

“Youtube makes starting an e-commerce site look like an illusion. They make it seem fluffy as the reality is, you have to treat your business like a business and not a side hustle, or it will pay you like a side hustle,” he says.

Making It Online

Santiago presently runs multiple successful e-commerce stores. He knows what it takes to start and build an e-commerce store from 0 to a multi-million business. Starting an online business is a viable approach that can benefit both veterans and civilians. Reports indicate that the e-commerce market expects to experience an annual growth rate of 8.1%. Even though we live in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping is still a lucrative venture. More and more consumers are going online for shopping.

Still, developing a successful business online is no easy feat. Most people ask how they can start an e-commerce business with no money. Well, for starters, Santiago recommends coming up with a business model and a plan. Next, you have to develop a user-friendly website. After that, upload quality pictures of your product and start selling.

What makes start-ups fail is that they develop a product that has no market need. Reports show that one of the reasons businesses fail is because the owners have not researched the market. “When starting a business, you have to find that unmet need within the market that you can fill,” says Santiago.

Santiago helps his clients develop the right e-commerce platform. He also provides them with strategies on how to research the market and connect with the right audience. This serial entrepreneur has all the industry insights from finding the right product to sell to attract the right customer. Santiago has been involved in the industry for four years now. He can tell you first-hand that a lot has changed in those years. One of the changes is customers abandoning their cart. Presently, 41 different studies have proven that the average cart abandonment is at least 70%. Gone are the days when people just set up websites and started selling. This era requires extensive research, in-depth knowledge, and hard work.

Why Santiago Is An Iconic Mentor

Santiago is a mentor. So far, he has mentored students who currently make over 500k in sales in their dropshipping stores. Santiago desires to help more and more people achieve their financial freedom. As a family man, this versatile entrepreneur understands the joy of being able to provide your family with a quality life. When we asked Santiago how he deals with burnout, he stated, “I spend time with my kids and wife. They give me more motivation to keep going to a new level every time. I also enjoy a bit of travel.”

Santiago is an example of an entrepreneur who works hard to help others. He believes that if you trust in yourself and manifest your goals, you will come to fruition if you think.

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