Military Streamer VET Tv Slates Free Showing of ‘Mental Hell and Wellness’ Series

Niche streamer VET Tv has announced the Veteran’s Day release of “Mental Hell and Wellness,” a new Web series available for free viewing at veterantv.com.

The new series, according to a press release, sets out to validate VET Tv’s “unwavering mission of healing through humor, and to debunk the criticisms of the video-on-demand provider’s brand of comedy, as well as its role in improving veteran mental health.”

Donny O’Malley

VET Tv, also known as Veteran Television, is a subscription-based SVOD channel launched in 2017 by retired Marine Captain Donny O’Malley. It sets out to re-create, parody and celebrate the military experience for those who served using dark and irreverent comedy to facilitate social connection among post-9/11 veterans.

Hosted by O’Malley, “Mental Hell and Wellness” features both one-on-one interviews with mental health professionals and a breakdown of VET Tv’s most popular series, “A Grunt’s Life,” with veteran and combat trauma specialist Lauren Rich.

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Other mental health professionals who volunteered their time to speak with O’Malley include New York Times best-selling author and Boston-based psychiatrist Dr. Bessel van der Kolk; John-David del Castillo, a combat stress recovery specialist from the Wounded Warrior Project in Sacramento; Dr. Michael Terry, coordinator of the University of San Diego’s Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program; Dr. Nancy Lin, a licensed clinical psychologist providing therapy for people suffering from insomnia, trauma, depression in San Diego; Dr. Holly Bechard, a psychiatric nurse practitioner from Solana Beach, Calif.; and Dr. Abby Cobey, a trauma, depression and anxiety specialist from Alexandria, Va.

VET Tv Launches First Non-Scripted Reality TV Show

VET Tv, a subscription streaming service aimed at active military, will release its first-ever non-scripted reality TV show on July 8.

“Veterans Laughing Together” is filled with the streamer’s signature dark humor and irreverence, VET Tv says. The show shines the spotlight on eight American heroes and Purple Heart recipients. It consists of eight episodes and will run for eight consecutive weeks starting July 8.

“This is a first-of-its-kind show with eight amazing Purple Heart recipients,” said Donny O’Malley, the retired Marine Captain and former Wounded Warrior who launched VET Tv in 2017. “They’ve been hit, they’ve been traumatized and they’ve seen and experienced all of the worst that war has to offer, 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.”

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The first episode features 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. Gardner was wounded during the initial 2003 invasion of Iraq when his platoon was engaged in a firefight with more than 100 Fedayeen Fighters in the Baghdad suburb of Al Tarymiah. While reloading his rifle, an enemy fighter took advantage of the situation and fired off a burst with his AK47 assault rifle, with one of the bullets entering just under Gardner’s left armpit. The bullet destroyed his spleen, collapsed his left lung and completely severed his spinal cord, instantly and permanently leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, “yet Gardner’s re-telling of the story leaves the entire group laughing and crying,” VET Tv says.

“Veterans Laughing Together is the 18th original series created by VET Tv, also known as Veteran Television. Based in Carlsbad, Calif., the service says it “sets out to re-create, parody and celebrate the military experience for those who served. It uses dark and irreverent comedy to recreate the post-9/11 military veteran experience.

COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders Trigger 25% Spike in VET TV Subs

The big subscription streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ aren’t the only ones that are benefiting from stay-at-home mandates instituted by governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the smaller players in the SVOD space, such as San Diego’s VET Tv, also are seeing spikes in viewership. The 3-year-old service, aimed at the military with original series known for their dark, irreverent humor, has seen its subscription base — which as of November 2019 stood at about 43,000 monthly subscribers — grow by roughly 25% since the pandemic started. And with the exception of only a couple of weeks, the company’s numbers have grown steadily week-over-week.

That growth, however, has not come without a cost.

“We’ve been carefully monitoring and following the rules and recommendations that have been put forth by the governor of California and the CDC,” said VET Tv president John Acevedo. “They have forced us to halt our normal production schedules and kept us from creating most of our new content, but thankfully, we have a fantastic creative team, and despite these challenges, our writers and production staff have done a great job of keeping a well-stocked library so we can continue to deliver new content to our viewers every week.”

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VET Tv founder and CEO Donny O’Malley has taken to the airwaves recently to talk about COVID-19 and its impact on members of the military, particularly veterans, for whom the stay-at-home and social isolation mandates can have a crippling and sometimes deadly effect.

“In the veteran community, social isolation leads to poor mental health, which can lead to suicide,” O’Malley said. “Now we’re being told that we need to stay at home, isolate and shelter in place, which is dangerous, so we, as a community have to combat social isolation. Everything we do at VET Tv is geared toward reducing social isolation. First, we get them to laugh at their military experience and then we encourage them to re-connect with people they served with. And beyond that, we also connect them to nonprofits and organizations that can help improve their quality of life.

“These connections to people and organizations build community, and the end result is better mental health and less suicide. But it all starts with laughter and the shot of dopamine associated with that laughter.”

That’s why VET Tv has continued to churn out content for its viewers despite the filming and production challenges that the pandemic has presented.

“Even though we’ve had to halt our normal production schedule, we still feel that it is our duty to do whatever we need to do to give our veterans and active-duty servicemen and women an escape from the depressing feelings that come from social isolation, even if it’s for just 15 minutes a week,” O’Malley said. “And if we can do that and improve mental health thru comedy, we know that we can bring the suicide numbers down as well.”

VET Tv’s team has become increasingly creative with content and production. Of late, that has even meant incorporating user-submitted pieces and green-screen sketches into its offerings.

VET Tv promises its subscribers one new show a week and it has a strong lineup of shows in the queue, including its first-ever foray into non-scripted television with a documentary series titled “Veterans Laughing Together,” and a sequel to “A Grunt’s Life,” VET Tv’s hit series that was re-released as a full-length feature film in 2019.

So far, VET Tv has released a total of 17 original series and a feature film. Monthly subscriptions are $5.

SVOD Service VET Tv Cuts COVID-19 Promo

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, VET Tv, a subscription streaming service aimed at active military, has crafted a video message to build viewership using comedy to deal with tragedy.

The four-minute-plus video message from VET Tv founder and CEO Donny O’Malley touches on the importance of hand-washing and social-distancing using O’Malley’s dark and irreverent brand of humor, while reminding viewers to stay engaged through social media to avoid falling into the trap of social isolation, particularly during mandatory quarantines which grow by the day.

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O’Malley has spoken numerous times on how social isolation can lead to suicide, especially among veterans.

He concludes the video by sharing VET Tv’s plans for continuing to provide content for its viewers during the coronavirus pandemic, while also reminding viewers to support American small business, especially veteran-owned small business.

You can watch the video HERE.

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