GREAT LAKES, Ill (NNS) -- Training Support Center (TSC) Great Lakes welcomed a comedian to convey an important message to students and staff April 3 and 4 during the Navy's Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Bernie McGrenahan's delivered an hourlong presentation about alcohol abuse, sexual harassment, suicide and bystander intervention, with the goal of entertaining, educating, and empowering all at once.
"Bernie McGrenahan delivered a funny yet impactful massage to 4,000 Great Lakes Sailors this week. Bernie is a renowned comedian who uses his comedy to relax the audience and set the stage," said Capt. Peter R. Lintner, commanding officer of TSC Great Lakes.
Performing around the world at various military bases, McGrenahan delivers a powerful message that combines humor with his personal experiences.
"I want to educate people, to let them know that alcohol is subtle, cunning, and baffling. While many are responsible consumers of alcohol, the problem is people who can't admit it and it affects their grades, character, mission, and personal conduct," McGrenahan said. "I try to reach the problem drinkers."
He also shared a story about how his friends did not look out for him, and how he made mistakes with the women in his life and did things that neither he, nor they were proud of. He encouraged the audience to not just stand by when something was going on, and to respect each other enough to take action.
His goal is to first disarm his audience with entertainment, followed bya serious message of his own struggle with alcoholism and how it has affected his entire family.
"His story hits very close to home with our Sailors and forces them to consider their own behavior," Lintner said. "Comments on Bernie's Blog and web page indicate the message hit home."
His message began with an array of jokes and then took on a serious tone as he discussed the ways he had fallen into alcoholism and lost his baseball scholarship, friends, and money because of his addiction. He touched on how he didn't respect his female friends and partners, and lost their respect and respect for himself. He shared that he received three DUIs and discussed the suicide of his brother and how it impacted his life. Six months in prison both grounded him and strengthened his resolve to clean up his life.
"The hope is that Bernie's approach, using humor to deliver a positive message, will amplify the work of military leadership on being responsible and serve as a positive outreach all Sailors and Marines in the Great Lakes area." said Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Robert Tompkins, of TSC.
"My inspiration, the reason I keep doing what I do are the people that helped me get sober and encouraged me to carry out my message. I'm empowered by them, knowing that they struggled themselves, has helped me stay clean, and really motivated me," said McGrenahan who just passed his 24th year of sobriety.
"If there's a thousand people in the audience, and I can reach a hundred, or even two hundred of them, then I must be doing something right. I want to help people change their lives, and if they're one of those people who doesn't abuse alcohol, I want them to feel like they can still improve, be better people."
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response is an important element of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy and Marine Corps. The Department of the Navy is working to aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, to support sexual assault victims, and to hold offenders accountable.
Help raise awareness by joining the conversation on social media using #SAAM.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from Training Support Center Great Lakes, visit www.navy.mil/local/tscgl/.