Servicemen and women being wounded, many times severely so, is normally no laughing matter but what many civilians don’t understand is that sometimes humor, even the dark, impertinent kind is how many of our wounded warriors cope with themselves and each other. 

Starting next week, (July 8) a new show, “Veterans Laughing Together” is breaking new ground. This totally unscripted show, which will be carried by the streaming video on demand channel VET Tv, and will truly earn the moniker “reality television. 

VET Tv is the brainchild of retired Marine Captain and former Wounded Warrior Donny O’Malley, who spent six years in the Marine Corps as an infantry officer, rifle platoon commander, and fire support team leader before finishing his Marines active career in the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Naval Medical Center San Diego. In typical VET Tv style, O’Malley writes that he was medically retired due to “weak bone structure and chronic sand in his lady parts.”

“This is a first-of-its-kind show with eight amazing Purple Heart recipients,” O’Malley says in a release about the show. 

Donny O’Malley.

“They’ve been hit, they’ve been traumatized and they’ve seen and experienced all of the worst that war to offer, and 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, and that’s why we chose them.”

And that shared experience of pain, trauma, and the tragedy that troops in combat have all experienced is what makes the show so compelling to watch. But rather than turn inward and risk being one of 22 veterans each day that commit suicide, these veterans all bring that pain to the surface and use dark humor to deflect it in a positive direction. Which is something that troops have always done amongst themselves but rarely if ever allow civilians or family members to see. That is about to change. 

The show has several intriguing guests who will share their own experiences and life stories. Marine Corps Corporal Paul Gardner, who was left paralyzed from the waist down after a bullet severed his spinal cord during a firefight in Iraq. 

Army Sergeant First Class Joseph James, who deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom once and Operation Iraqi Freedom three times. On April 8, 2008, SFC James’ Humvee was struck simultaneously by two improvised explosive devices (IEDs). SFC James lost both legs in the blast. SFC James’ suffered a right below-knee amputation, a left above-knee amputation, and it is estimated that he underwent a total of approximately 18 surgeries throughout his recovery.