17th Field Artillery Brigade


Hometown: Joint Base Lewis McChord , WA, US

17th Field Artillery Brigade
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The 17th Field Artillery Brigade emphasizes importance of safety and resiliency

Recent News Stories

The 17th Field Artillery Brigade emphasizes importance...
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The 17th Field Artillery Brigade held a Safety and Resiliency Day with a comedy show for its Thunderbolt Soldiers at Carey Theater...
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Recent Photos

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The 17th Field Artillery Brigade emphasizes importance of safety and resiliency


Story by Capt. Tania Donovan

The show featured comedian Bernie McGrenahan, who is no stranger to JBLM. McGrenahan spoke about serious topics like alcohol abuse, personal resiliency, and the bystander effect while offering laughs to communicate his important messages.

The brigade safety and resiliency day kicked-off in the morning with speakers who offered safety advice on a myriad of subjects. The Soldiers then had an opportunity to meet and engage with some of our local community leaders who offer resources to our Soldiers, their families, and our communities.

With the summer in the horizon, learning about safety and resiliency is a brigade priority. Approximately 700 Soldiers from the 17th Field Artillery Brigade gathered at Carey Theater for the days training.

In the afternoon session, comedian McGrenahan discussed life stories and joked about his tribulations and misadventures as a young man. He shared with the Thunderbolt Soldiers the heavy drinking he engaged in and the poor choices that came with his drinking. While his delivery was lighthearted, his message was heavy and sincere. "The importance of stopping for a day of education on safety and resiliency comes down to delivering the message that it is ok to seek and get help," said Maj. (Chaplain) Anthony Flores. "When battling unhealthy addictions and emotional problems, getting help is critical," said Flores.

“I liked today's training because it was interactive and we were up on our feet engaging each other and the agencies that were here,” said Spc. Alan Ludwig, Bravo Battery, 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade. “This training is something every Soldier should go through.”

McGrenahan talked about some of his past experiences with the crowd, telling them that he didn’t always make the correct decisions when he had been drinking. “When me and my friends would go out drinking – we didn’t have a plan,” said McGrenahan. “Then I decided to get behind the wheel, and after that DUI, I had lost my reputation, my honor, and my integrity,” said McGrenahan.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, stresses of deployment during wartime and the unique culture of the military account for the rise of alcohol abuse. Zero-tolerance policies and stigma pose difficulties in identifying and treating substance use problems in military personnel, as does lack of confidentiality that deters many who need treatment from seeking it.

“I want people to know we need to live with respect and dignity,” said McGrenahan. “We need to go out with a plan before bad things happen.”

McGrenahan also told the touching and personal story about losing his brother to suicide, “Nobody wants to lose somebody to suicide and there are way too many happening. Talk about it. Secrets keep us sick. Don’t keep secrets if you have things to talk about. If you’re in pain, talk about it, you will still be viewed as a good Soldier,” said McGrenahan.

At the conclusion of the show, McGrenahan closed by thanking all those who attended, and later took pictures and signed autographs for Thunderbolt Soldiers. "Mr. Bernie was hilarious yet effective in communicating his most important messages in a serious manner," said Capt. Clay Garner, 17th FA Bde. "The resiliency topic is serious and I'm thankful that our leaders emphasize its importance," said Garner.

For more photos from the 17th Field Artillery Brigade Safety and Resiliency Day, visit the brigade facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/17thFieldArtilleryBrigade/

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