Vet tv cast members

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New VET-Tv documentary series on Purple Heart veterans seeks to inspire life changes

Army veteran Vanessa Brown, center, is pictured in early with other cast members and the crew of "Veterans Laughing Together," a documentary series launched in July on the video-on-demand channel VET-Tv. Brown, the only female combat-wounded veteran on the show, was &#;the hardest&#; of them all, said retired Army Special Forces member Nathan Smith to her left, wearing a tie.

Army veteran Vanessa Brown, center, is pictured in early with other cast members and the crew of "Veterans Laughing Together," a documentary series launched in July on the video-on-demand channel VET-Tv. Brown, the only female combat-wounded veteran on the show, was &#;the hardest&#; of them all, said retired Army Special Forces member Nathan Smith to her left, wearing a tie. (Scott Yoffe/VET-Tv)

Army veteran Vanessa Brown, center, is pictured in early with other cast members and the crew of "Veterans Laughing Together," a documentary series launched in July on the video-on-demand channel VET-Tv. Brown, the only female combat-wounded veteran on the show, was &#;the hardest&#; of them all, said retired Army Special Forces member Nathan Smith to her left, wearing a tie.

Army veteran Vanessa Brown, center, is pictured in early with other cast members and the crew of "Veterans Laughing Together," a documentary series launched in July on the video-on-demand channel VET-Tv. Brown, the only female combat-wounded veteran on the show, was &#;the hardest&#; of them all, said retired Army Special Forces member Nathan Smith to her left, wearing a tie. (Scott Yoffe/VET-Tv)

Pictured on the set in early at March Air Force Base in Riverside, Calif., of video-on-demand channel VET-Tv&#;s new documentary series "Veterans Laughing Together" are, left to right, Marine veteran Paul Gardner, Marine veteran and VET-Tv founder Donny O&#;Malley, Army veteran Joseph James and Army Special Forces veteran Nathan Smith.

Pictured on the set in early at March Air Force Base in Riverside, Calif., of video-on-demand channel VET-Tv&#;s new documentary series "Veterans Laughing Together" are, left to right, Marine veteran Paul Gardner, Marine veteran and VET-Tv founder Donny O&#;Malley, Army veteran Joseph James and Army Special Forces veteran Nathan Smith. (Scott Yoffe/VET-Tv)

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nathan Smith called in “super danger close” mortar fire and airstrikes when he and his troops were ambushed in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.

The days of pounding blasts as the American and Afghan forces battled Islamic State militants three years ago left Smith with a condition he calls “blast brain.” It eventually forced him out of service, the former 7th Special Forces Group soldier recounted on the third episode of “Veterans Laughing Together,” a new VET-Tv documentary about Purple Heart recipients.

The rare look at the intense combat Americans have endured in Afghanistan in recent years comes in a series that marks a turn to more serious content for the San Diego-based video-on-demand channel that’s better known for its “dark and irreverent” comedies targeted to veterans and service members.

The show brings together Purple Heart recipients to share stories of how they were wounded and what happened next. It’s the first such nonfiction program for the 3-year-old comedy site that, since its inception, has been criticized as overly crass and offensive.

But the documentary series is the culmination of what the channel has sought to achieve all along, building community and delivering catharsis, said Donny O’Malley, the show’s host and the former Marine who founded VET-Tv.

“This is just the first time that we’ve combined everything that the company’s all about — telling the stories of our community, bringing people together to laugh and connect,” O’Malley said in a phone interview. “We’re kind of testing the water with this show.”

It hasn’t drawn as many views from the service’s 93, subscribers as its more outrageous comedies, O’Malley said, but more viewers tend to watch all the way to the end. In online comments, they praise its beauty and emotional power.

That doesn’t mean “Veterans Laughing Together” isn’t also humorous, but the jokes are mixed in with discussions about fear, guilt and shame, as well as uplifting stories of grit and courage.

Filmed over several days this spring at March Field Air Museum in Riverside, Calif., the show aims to feel uncensored and unsanitized but not indulgent.

For Smith, it was the first time he said he had come “out of my shell” since being medically retired two years ago, he said in a phone interview. He’s still trying to find his footing in civilian life after 17 years of service.

Over more than a decade, Marine veteran Paul Gardner, on the other hand, has told the story many times of how he was shot in Iraq in and paralyzed from the waist down — but never as raw as in the series’ debut episode, he said.

“Something about that environment (among the other veterans) it opens you up,” he said in a phone interview.

Animations depicting the one-on-one gunfight in which he was wounded outside Baghdad have helped people already familiar with his story understand it in a way they couldn’t before, he said.

O’Malley’s hope is that such stories will inspire people to make changes in their lives, he said.

Vanessa Brown’s story in the fifth episode, about how she was wounded and about the sexism the former staff sergeant faced from her fellow soldiers, already has had an effect among the men who appear on the show with her, Gardner said.

“It really changed our perspectives a lot,” he said.

Shot in the side on her second Iraq deployment, Brown recovered and deployed to Afghanistan where she was wounded in a roadside bomb blast about three years ago. She had to learn to walk again and now lives in constant pain.

Brown is “the hardest” of anyone on the show, Smith said, summing up her story as one of “service, sacrifice and a will to live.”

[email protected] Twitter: @chadgarland

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Chad Garland

Chad is a Marine Corps veteran who covers the U.S. military in the Middle East, Afghanistan and sometimes elsewhere for Stars and Stripes. An Illinois native who’s reported for news outlets in Washington, D.C., Arizona, Oregon and California, he’s an alumnus of the Defense Language Institute, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Arizona State University.


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At Vet Tv, ‘don’t expect anything to be politically correct, professional or honorable’

In the warehouse of an abandoned animal shelter in Riverside, Donny O’Malley is getting ready to reprise one of his most popular characters. The occasion is production on a show called “Devil Docs,” a web comedy about Navy corpsmen billed as “Scrubs” for the U.S. military. The character is Donna Brunswick, a transgender staff sergeant.

“Hold back all the laughter,” he jokes to the quiet room of cast and crew, many of whom are veterans or active-duty military, as they settle in for more takes on a scene set at a Marine Corps ball. “I know you’re trying really hard to hold it back in.”

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Standing at a podium, O’Malley sports an extravagant red gown and glittery makeup. The Brunswick character, whose first official appearance came in a episode of the webseries “Kill, Die, Laugh” titled “Transgender Drill Instructor,” is, ostensibly, a transgender woman, but the effect is deliberately extreme: O’Malley, a Marine Corps vet, protrudes wildly from the dress with the build of someone who appears able to lift a small car.

A good number in the military community would recognize O’Malley on sight, regardless of his appearance. Besides being its frequent star, he is also the CEO and lead writer, director and producer of the VOD streaming network Vet Tv. The service, which has more than 50, subscribers at a rate of $5 a month, is marketed directly to members and veterans of the armed forces, particularly the extensive, web-savvy, post-9/11 generation.

With a new video released once a week, every week, O’Malley and his staff, which has grown to 15 full-time employees, nine of them veterans, have accumulated some 60 hours of original material, spread across more than a dozen series and one feature-length film. The material is extremely crass: Almost none of it could be aired on a channel like Comedy Central, and the platform’s movie, “A Grunt’s Life,” was rejected from Amazon for “being too offensive.” The staff says its crude sense of humor is reflective of a large portion of the military —whether civilians would understand it or not.

“Don’t expect anything here to be politically correct, professional, or honorable,” Vet Tv’s Kickstarter campaign page stated. “Don’t expect us to represent the U.S. military the way the commercials want us to, or the way you think we should. We made our sacrifice; we don’t owe anyone ” The campaign took in almost $, — $50, more than its targeted goal.


“Two years ago, I was Googling ‘free locations to film,’ andRiverside popped up,” says John Acevedo, Vet Tv’s COO and CMO. While the Marine Corps ball shoot continues back in the warehouse, he’s showing off the rest of the company’s DIY production studio — a substantial commute from the San Diego area, where most of the employees live, near Camp Pendleton. Passing through an unoccupied “Devil Docs” set, remnants of a recent shoot linger, with prop syringes and fake blood strewn across the counters.

Donny O’Malley, left, talks to a member of the crew while going over clips during the filming of an episode of “Devil Docs.”

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

“It looks like trash because that’s literally what a battalion aid station in the military looks like,” Acevedo says. “It’s like, is this Third World? Doesn’t the military have [15] percent of our budget? Why is this the clinic that they have?”

After he was discharged from the Marine Corps in — “this long ago,” he says, pointing to his shoulder-length hair — Acevedo cold-emailed to see if he could get involved with O’Malley’s nonprofit, Irreverent Warriors, which organizes veteran hikes around the country with the goal of “healing with humor.” Acevedo’s contact coincided with the launch of Vet Tv, and he became one of the network’s first employees. “I would say there’s two people that actually have formal education in any job we have,” he explains. “We basically learned through Google and YouTube while working in the company.”

Production coordinator Turner Fair, who is one of the few full-time staff members who didn’t serve in the military and who would later be seen in costume as a rapper with a fake tattoo of a penis on his neck, joined because of those DIY ideals. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of renegade filmmaking, and to push the boundaries of things,” he says. “There is still a sense of unity in trying to do something that we don’t necessarily understand but know needs to be done.” (Fair has since left Vet Tv.)

What needs to be done is at the center of Vet Tv programming. War-related movies and series are evergreen in Hollywood, but they are almost universally produced with civilian audiences in mind — audiences whose understanding of the military is largely based on other movies and series they’ve already seen.

O’Malley’s mini-empire is based on the idea that there is a veteran market yet to be fully captured. (By comparison, AMC Networks’ four niche streaming platforms — Shudder, Acorn, Sundance Now and UMC — together count more than 2 million combined subscribers.) And with veteran suicide at an epidemic rate of at least 17 a day, Vet Tv is also built on the belief that there is good to be done in the process of capturing this specific audience.

Vet Tv films a scene for an episode of “Devil Docs” in Riverside.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

“If Vet Tv tended to everybody, it wouldn’t be Vet Tv — it would be TV,” says Zachery Laning, a digital media producer and Marine vet. “And you can say, ‘That’s not for me,’ but it helps people! It’s insane: The first weekend I worked, we did an Irreverent Warriors hike in Texas, and you don’t know how many people came up to Donny and were just like, ‘Man, Vet Tv literally saved my life, ’cause I got out and I didn’t have friends, I didn’t have anybody to talk to, but I could sit down and feel like I was back at work and back in the military. And I was laughing like I haven’t laughed in a long, long time.’”


Donny O’Malley is a stage name. Born Daniel Maher Jr. in in Queens, N.Y., to a military family (his father was a Marine officer, before he went to medical school and became a physician in the Navy), O’Malley grew up enraptured by war epics like “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Hamburger Hill” and “Platoon.”

“These are all atrocious Vietnam movies,” he laughs from a couch in a break room — adjacent to what clearly used to be a kennel — while the production takes lunch. “And some of ’em are Oliver Stone, who’s super antiwar. I remember watching those movies and thinking” — here he adopts an amped-up little-kid voice — “‘I gotta be a Marine!’”

After going to college at San Diego State, O’Malley, against his father’s protests, became a Marine officer himself, eventually deploying in two tours, one of them in Afghanistan. The mission there, as recently detailed in the Washington Post’s “Afghanistan Papers” report, was perceived by many of those present to be almost entirely pointless.

“We get there and we’re training with the Afghan army, and their level of pathetic-ness was beyond comprehension,” says O’Malley, who served as an officer for almost six years.

He describes the experience of fighting to establish bases in Helmand province only to watch the bases immediately be retaken by the Taliban as soon as the U.S. tried to hand them off to local forces: “As we’re still there, [the Taliban are] taking over!” he says. “I talk about this a lot with other veterans, because I want to improve mental health, and talk through the frustration of knowing that my buddy just blew his legs off, and my other buddies just got shot, and my other buddies just died, for what? It’s wild.”

O’Malley insists that his own reentry into society wasn’t particularly fraught (“I never killed a civilian, so my conscience is clean,” he says), but after a friend who was a veteran committed suicide, he redirected his writing career to focus on military mental health. He then decided to start a production company in the spirit of Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison, a content hub creatively fueled largely by Sandler’s friends. But with a comedic voice that could be described as Sandler via Pauly Shore,O’Malley has also amassed a substantial number of critics.

There are Vet Tv skits that are deeply misogynistic: One particularly egregious skit makes fun of PTSD by advertising a “Night Terror Neck Brace” for abused military spouses. Others are deeply racist: In several skits, O’Malley wears brownface makeup while imitating Middle Eastern caricatures. And objections to the material are not just coming from civilians who don’t “get” the “humor.”

On military message boards there is vocal disapproval from those who label it as “boot,” or immature (“I thought I would like it, but it just comes off as a little cringy to be honest,” says one user in the “Veterans” subreddit). And for certain senior figures in the military, it’s a pain and counter to the ongoing work to make all Americans feel welcome in uniform — not just straight, white men.

“I get what he’s trying to do, but it’s hard to watch it and not think of it as being anything other than really offensive,” says Col. Don Christensen, former chief prosecutor of the Air Force and president of Protect Our Defenders, an organization dedicated to eradicating rape and sexual assault in the military. “A lot of the problem within the military is getting people to think like adults versus frat boys. This just feeds into those who [want to make] fun of women, the LGBTQ community, or whatever it is.”

Brynn Tannehill, a Navy veteran who piloted aircraft in three deployments between and and an activist in the transgender community, responded directly to the character of Donna Brunswick. “The idea that trans people are simply men in dresses is a stereotype that is unhelpful,” she says. “If you are othering people, that makes things more difficult.”

Asked about the misogyny in past Vet Tv skits, O’Malley — who has responded defiantly to such questions in the past — now expresses remorse: “That’s all my mistake,” he sighs. “Because my only thought when starting the business was, ‘Our audience is [90%] men. We are not going to expect a single woman to give us a dollar, and without dollars we don’t have a business. ’ I didn’t think about a bigger picture.”

He also regrets the brownface: “The problem I learned afterwards was people didn’t just perceive it as us parodying terrorists — it was us parodying Middle Easterners, and that puts us in a whole other bucket,” he says. “So are we going to do [brownface] again? No. I would absolutely do the skit again, just not do the brownface. I wouldn’t play the role.”

O’Malley says he is trying to learn and improve — and he does seem earnest about that. As for the Brunswick character, however — the one he played that very day — O’Malley doesn’t believe he’s doing anything wrong. “My goal is to develop the ability to continue playing that character in a manner that transgender people who have felt that pain [of discrimination] can appreciate,” he says.

Tannehill doesn’t think that’s possible. “I don’t know that there is anything that can be done with the character, because the character is a caricature and being played by a cisgender person and in and of itself is problematic,” she says. “I appreciate [O’Malley’s] desire to try to do better. But sometimes a particular character or a particular situation is not salvageable, right?”


Back in the warehouse, an older man arrives late in the day, dressed neatly, with impeccable posture and toting a friendly golden doodle named Bella. This is O’Malley’s father, Daniel Maher Sr.

“He asked me not to,” Maher laughs, when asked if he calls his son Donny on set. “But everybody does, and since I’m Dan, I call him Donny when I’m around his staff.”

Using his decades of experience in multiple branches of the military, Maher serves as a senior advisor to Vet Tv. But he notes a difference between his experience and his son’s. “His generation has served in combat — that’s a whole different ballgame,” he says. “There is no understanding of how somebody feels with the stresses they went through, and what they were asked to do.”

He’s accepting of how his son, and his son’s fans, are processing the experience of being in uniform — even if it’s hard to imagine him laughing at Vet Tv skits.

“[Early on] I would talk to my chief, my HM1, all these senior enlisted,” Maher remembers, “and say, ‘Check this out, my son is doing this stuff, does that make sense to you?’ And they would go, ‘Oh my God, he’s barely touching the surface.’”

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Full Cast & Crew

Donny O'Malley Donny O'Malley  Brunswick / 10 episodes, Greg T. Kelly Greg T. Kelly  Glerg / 7 episodes, Krista Kangas Krista Kangas  Dependa / 5 episodes Brunson K Delves Brunson K Delves  SGT. Miguel Torres3 episodes Christopher Michael Christopher Michael  Bart / 3 episodes Paula Lauzon Paula Lauzon  Col. Nelson2 episodes, Alessandra Marandola Alessandra Marandola  Kerry2 episodes Ian Stanley Ian Stanley  Colonel Bates / 2 episodes Rachel Alig Rachel Alig  Christina Powers1 episode, Victoria Bindes Victoria Bindes  Female Recruit1 episode, Alanah Bird Alanah Bird  Drill Instructor Student1 episode, Ryan J. Burwell Ryan J. Burwell  Marine Grunt Jack1 episode, Salvatore Calannie Jr. Salvatore Calannie Jr.  Brown1 episode, Jittima Camara Jittima Camara  Sgt Latoya1 episode, Tina Casper Tina Casper  Female Recruit1 episode, Sonia Coleman Sonia Coleman  Female Recruit1 episode, Jonathan R. Enerva Jonathan R. Enerva  Santos1 episode, Liz Hansel Liz Hansel  Female Recruit1 episode, Amber Hayes Amber Hayes  Drill Instructor Student1 episode, Allison Jozay Allison Jozay  Jennifer Swanson1 episode, Angelique Kenney Angelique Kenney  Drill Instructor Student1 episode, Mark Labella Mark Labella  Reyes1 episode, Teri Marlowe Teri Marlowe  Barbara1 episode, Annie Milligan Annie Milligan  Drill Instructor Student1 episode, Nikki Nelson Nikki Nelson  Sgt. Nikki Nelson1 episode, Toby S. Pruett Toby S. Pruett  Darrel1 episode, Nolan Pugh Nolan Pugh  Charlie1 episode, Connie Ray Connie Ray  Female Recruit1 episode, Fernando Rivera Fernando Rivera  Flores1 episode, Kathleen Roy Kathleen Roy  Col. Walker1 episode, Robert Silvas Robert Silvas  Gomez1 episode, Megan Silverman Megan Silverman  Female Recruit1 episode, Angela Stevens Angela Stevens  Female Recruit1 episode, Alex Tapanya Alex Tapanya  Cruz1 episode, Will Weed Will Weed  Baker1 episode, Samuel Whitehill Samuel Whitehill  Col. Jones1 episode, L.A. Williams L.A. Williams  Adebesi1 episode, La Williams La Williams  Adebesi1 episode, Wayne Wilson Wayne Wilson  Armory Marine1 episode, Sutra Winter Sutra Winter  Female Recruit1 episode, Havon Baraka Havon Baraka  Watch1 episode Yuval Bibi Yuval Bibi  Major General Ovens1 episode Ron Brosh Ron Brosh  Brett1 episode Kaitlyn Clare Kaitlyn Clare  2nd Lt Maher1 episode Bruce Clifford Bruce Clifford  Sailor 31 episode Ahmed Costa Ahmed Costa  Ackmed1 episode Leslie Daniels Leslie Daniels  2nd Lt Riley1 episode Erik Donovan Erik Donovan  Chief1 episode Jeremy Givens Jeremy Givens  Rogers1 episode Ursula Khan Ursula Khan  Katherine1 episode Dede Matz Dede Matz  Mom of private1 episode Zachary Meacham Zachary Meacham  LCpl Taylor1 episode Steven P. Nemphos Steven P. Nemphos  Major Maher1 episode Devan Schoelen Devan Schoelen  Montez1 episode Timothy Scott Timothy Scott  Pvt. Miller1 episode Andrew Truong Andrew Truong  Reyes1 episode Karalee Austin Karalee Austin  Debra Powers ()unknown episodes

When we said goodbye and they closed the door behind them, I carefully examined my genitals and was surprised at how thin they. Became and, taking the key, began to slowly loosen the screws. After removing all the clamps, I touched the almost flat penis and head and put a flat pancake of two eggs in my palm.

It looks like fried eggs comparing I smiled.

Members vet tv cast

The girl began to whine loudly, there was no other way to call it, and Maxim could not stand another minute, dragged her by the. Hand out of the forest. Two weeks later, Danila and Vadim were invited to a birthday party, and he saw Alena again.

Heartland Cast Secret Ages And Life Partners EXPOSED!

I quietly walked to the door, which, luckily (!) Was slightly ajar, and saw. my mother, who was watching a very attractive erotic film, or even a porn movie. I think, where did this kind of film come from in the mother. Then I stared at my mother, who was lying naked on the bed and moaning softly, holding her chest.

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I always masturbated like that because I liked the feel of something in my ass. After this incident, I did not miss the opportunity to demonstrate to Sasha some intimate part of my body. And once I pretended that I forgot to take clean panties to the bathroom and left it in a dress on my naked. Body, and put on panties right in front of his eyes, of course he could not see anything under the hem, but his face was as if he were about to die from spermotoxicosis.

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