Sailors, Marines Learn Laughter May be Best Medicine in Preventing Combat Stress

As part of  OSC’s efforts to use humor as a way to relieve stress, the OSC Team partnered with the Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control (NCCOSC) conference planning committee to bring representatives from the National Cartoonist Society and The Humor Project, Inc. to this year’s Navy and Marine Corps COSC conference. The following article highlights what the experts said about using humor to prevent stress injuries.

Sailors, Marines Learn Laughter May be Best Medicine in Preventing Combat Stress

Release Date: 4/28/2011 5:05:00 AM
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alan Gragg, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SAN DIEGO (NNS) — Sailors and Marines learned how humor can help prevent combat stress issues at the 2011 Navy and Marine Corps Combat and Operational Stress Control (COSC) Conference in San Diego, April 27.

The second day of the four-day conference emphasized different methods to deal with stress and featured guest appearances from the National Cartoonist Society and representatives from The Humor Project, Inc.

“There are a whole variety of ways stress can be prevented using humor,” said Dr. Joel Goodman, Humor Project founder and director. “Steve Allen said nothing is quite as funny as the unintended humor of reality. So, a homework assignment would be, for five minutes a day, to make believe you’re Steve Allen, looking for humor in reality.”

“A second tip would be to have a childlike perspective; look at the world through the eyes of an eight-year-old and see if you can reframe that adult mess of stress with a childlike perspective,” added Goodman.

Another method Goodman mentioned was trying to see a situation the same way a person’s favorite cartoonist or comedian would see it.

Some of those favorite cartoonists were actually part of the conference lecture as well. Members of the National Cartoonist Society addressed the conference about the impact of humor on stress.

“We’ve heard doctors say humor actually helps the healing process,” said Jeff Bacon, cartoonist for the “Broadside” comic published in Navy Times. “I’ve heard people say ‘that’s the first time I’ve seen that person smile since they’ve been here.'”

The cartoonists held an exhibition of their renowned artwork, where they drew cartoons and caricatures for Sailors and Marines at the conference.

While in town, the group also spent time visiting service members at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD).

“That’s why I appreciate the cartoonists being here, because they’re making an effort to get a new perspective on what it’s like to be in the military and go overseas and fight,” said Ensign Meghan Malone, conference attendee and nurse at NMCSD.

The cartoonists were grateful for the opportunity to spend some time with service members.

“We felt that this is something we should do for the troops,” said Bacon. “It’s hard to describe, but when you’re a cartoonist, and you’re in your room by yourself drawing cartoons, you don’t get out and experience a lot of things, sometimes. So, for us to be able to go out on a ship, or go out to Iraq, or Walter Reed or Brook Army Medical Center and shake the hands of what we call ‘real people,’ it means something to us.”

After the cartoonists’ presentation, Goodman concluded the lecture by thanking military members for their service and reminded them humor is a gift they need to give each other and their families.

With all the deployments and challenges a military family will face, they need humor to keep themselves close, said Goodman.

A goal for the COSC conference is for leaders at all levels to learn new ways to strengthen the force of the Navy and Marine Corps, along with recognizing stress injuries and effective ways to deal with them.

For more information on The Humor Project and ways to conquer stress, visit

For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element-West, visit

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