A Vet TV segment
Recording a Vet TV segment at March Field Air Museum in Riverside

By Rick Griffin

Carlsbad-based Vet TV, a commercial-free, subscription, video-on-demand channel with programming geared towards military veterans, recently surpassed the 90,000 subscriber mark, according to founder and CEO Donny O’Malley.

On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, the channel will launch a new website, www.VeteranTV.com, plus its 21st original series, called “Mental Hell and Wellness.”

The new series, featuring one-on-one interviews with mental health professionals, is designed to validate Vet TV’s unwavering mission of healing through humor, according to O’Malley, who lives in Escondido.

“There is tangible proof that healing from the trauma of war can be achieved through comedy,” said O’Malley, a retired U.S. Marines captain and Wounded Warrior. “I’ve known that for a long time. It’s why I started Vet TV. But, for all the critics out there, we’re now offering proof from some of the top mental health professionals from around the country that there’s so much that can be gained by something as simple as giving a dopamine shot to the brain by making someone laugh.”

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Subscription costs for Vet TV are $4.99 monthly or $54.99 annually. Viewers can watch over Ruku, Apple TV, Xbox One and Chromecast, as well as online on a mobile device or computer. However, “Mental Hell and Wellness” is available at no cost on the website, the channel said.

“We realize how impactful this web series will be, and that’s why we’re making it available to everyone for free,” said O’Malley, who serves as the show’s host. “We want to reach as many veterans and active-duty personnel as possible. This series is simply that important.”

Mental health professionals from around the country interviewed for the “Mental Hell and Wellness” series include: Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a Boston psychiatrist; Lauren Rich, veteran and combat trauma specialist; John David del Castillo, combat stress recovery specialist from the Wounded Warrior Project in Sacramento; Dr. Michael Terry, coordinator of the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program, University of San Diego; Dr. Nancy Lin, a San Diego licensed clinical psychologist providing therapy for people suffering from insomnia, trauma, depression; Dr. Holly Behcard, a Solana Beach psychiatric nurse practitioner; and Dr. Abby Cobey, trauma, depression and anxiety specialist from Alexandria, VA.

Vet TV describes itself as “raw and offensive” and an “unapologetic, laugh-out-loud military streaming service that recreates and parodies the military experience in order to prevent veteran suicide. It’s like a dead baby joke. It’s messed up, but you still laugh.”

Donny O'Malley
Donny O’Malley

Programming is designed to capture all aspects of the military experience. Shows include such titles as “A Grunt’s Life,” “War is a Riot,” “Drunken Debriefs,” “Devil Docs” “Kill Die Laugh” and “Troops Gone Wild.” New shows include “Off To See The Wizard,” “Meanwhile in the Field” and “Veterans Laughing Together,” which was released this summer.

The eight-part “Veterans Laughing Together” series, and the channel’s first documentary series, finds Purple Heart recipients in a group setting detailing how they were wounded in combat and how the experience changed their lives. Sitting in a circle at March Field Air Museum in Riverside, the vets discuss lost limbs, pierced organs and their broken vertebrae, along with plenty of profanity and details about blood and guts. Unless you’re a vet, the name of the show may not make sense.

“They’ve been hit, they’ve been traumatized and they’ve seen and experienced all of the worst that war has to offer,” said O’Malley referring to the Purple Heart recipients. “Yet because of the level of trust they have in us, they tell their stories to our audience in a way that very few people ever get to see or hear. You’ll hear about the physical trauma they all experienced in combat, and the injustices that followed. They experienced the worst of it, yet they have this unbelievable sense of irreverence and they’re still able to laugh about it all.”

One show in the “Veterans Laughing Together” series highlights the story of Marine Corps Cpl. Paul Gardner, who was wounded during a 2003 firefight in Iraq. An enemy fighter’s bullet destroyed Gardner’s spleen, collapsed his left lung and completely severed his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

But, as he recounts the moments that followed, Gardner remembers how the gunner in the helicopter that was flying him to safety couldn’t bear to look at him, and he remembers finding that funny. “Don’t look at the dying guy. Awkward!” Gardner says. His retelling of the story leaves the entire group laughing and crying.

PRSA Discussing Election Takeaways for PR Pros

The Public Relations Society of America’s San Diego-Imperial Counties chapter will host “Election Takeaways for PR Pros,” a discussion of public affairs strategies from the recent 2020 election, from 8 to 9 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 12.

Speakers will include Matt Awbry, chief of civic and external affairs, City of San Diego, Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office, as well Rachel Laing and Greg Block from Three-Sixty Public Strategies.

Cost to participate in the online Zoom webinar is $25 for members, $40 for nonmembers and $15 for students. For more information, contact katie.nieri@yahoo.com or kristindeuber@gmail.com.

Press Club Webinar Offers Linkedin Tips

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The San Diego Press Club will host “Propel Your Career with LinkedIn,” a webinar from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12. The webinar will discuss how to elevate your Linkedin presence with tips on how to optimize your profile, participate in groups, position yourself for new opportunities and understand the shifting perceptions of journalism, PR and job hunting, as well as using LinkedIn for business development and attracting new clients.

Speakers include Sage Pierce, human resources manager, NBC 7 San Diego/Telemundo 20; Jaz Adams, director of strategy, Wayward Kind. Moderator will be Denise Scatena, founding partner, Scatena Daniels Communications. Cost is free for members and students, $10 for nonmembers.

To register, visit www.sdpressclub.org. The webinar is part of the Press Club’s ongoing “Nuts & Bolts” series.

San Diego AMA Presents 2020 Cause Conference this Friday

The American Marketing Association San Diego chapter will present the 2020 Cause Conference from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13, over Zoom. This year’s theme is “Amplifying Social Impact Plus Innovation for Good.”

It’s the 21st year for the conference, which will feature four tracks, 16 presentations and panels with more than 50 speakers discussing current trends in philanthropy, cause-driven marketing strategies and best practices in stakeholder communication, donor engagement and social purpose.

Speakers will include business leaders and representatives from corporate philanthropy organizations, private associations, universities and private foundations. The conference also will include a presentation on the state of philanthropy from the University of San Diego’s Nonprofit Institute.

The Cause Conference was founded on the mission of helping funding organizations and individuals make strategic funding decisions and help nonprofit organizations utilize current marketing and business tactics to grow their own funding for their own sustainability.

Rick Griffin
Rick Griffin

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.