The Laugh Button website put together a list of 10 comedians who have put their country before themselves and have since gone on to serve a second career on the stand-up comedy stage. I have great admiration for the veterans on this list. I’ve shared stages, travels & my life with many of them. Very cool to be included.
Navy Veteran and Comedian PJ Walsh Riding World T.E.A.M. Sports Face of America
Support of Veterans Key to Walsh
By Richard Rhinehart
Arlington, Virginia, February 23, 2016 – Navy veteran and comedian PJ Walsh competed last September in national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Adventure Team Challenge, an inspirational team event in Colorado’s remote Gore Range with disabled and able-bodied athletes. This April 22-24, Walsh will ride 110 miles over two days in the organization’s annual Face of America bicycle and hand cycle ride honoring injured military veterans. He’ll also provide the keynote talk at the event’s kick-off banquet in Arlington.
“I’ve never ridden a long ride before, so I want to push myself to be in the best shape I can be in,” said Walsh. A frequent runner who works out at his local gym most days, Walsh notes he is increasing his cycling to be prepared for his long days of riding.
A contender at last summer’s American Ninja Warrior competition on NBC Television, Walsh exited early from the military competition after being hit by a rolling log. Even with his early departure, Walsh had the opportunity to talk on national television about veterans and their sacrifices, a cause that remains close to his heart for the last decade.
“One day in August of 2007, I found myself sitting in a C-130 plane flying over Afghanistan transporting remains. It was five hours of silence I will feel for the rest of my life,” recalled Walsh. “I have no idea who was under those American Flag draped coffins. But I know exactly what I owe them. The type of individual that goes into that room and makes that oath. I owe them everything. Everything I have accomplished, learned and fought through.”
“World T.E.A.M. Sports is very excited to have PJ Walsh join us at our Face of America gala dinner,” said Van Brinson, CEO and President. “Having served in the US Navy, PJ is especially attuned the ‘unique’ brand of humor that resonates with veterans. He will be natural fit for our event.”
A frequent entertainer for military troops overseas, Walsh is one of a small number of comedians who take time to entertain active duty military members, much like entertainer Bob Hope did in his decades of overseas tours a generation ago.
“Everyone knew who Bob Hope was,” Walsh said. “I’m more, PJ who? But that’s what I really liked about Bob Hope. I’ve seen and know a lot of very successful entertainers that don’t take the time to visit our men and women overseas. It really bothered me for a long time … reallybothered me. I was in the military, feel fortunate, and obligated in some fashion to continue to do my small part.”
Since 2001, Walsh has traveled with about 45 different comedians on overseas tours, including 12 who were veterans. “The comedians who go overseas to entertain the troops will always hold a special place in my heart.”
With more than 600 participants anticipated in this year’s Face of America ride, including 160 injured military veterans from all service branches, the 44-year-old Walsh is planning to entertain at his keynote talk, but also offer an understanding of the challenges veterans face today.
“I do think there should be genuine feelings shared,” admitted Walsh. “I feel blessed to be a part of this community. I care about these people because they are my people. My experiences with them, from when I was 18 years old through today, have framed the man I am today.”
Walsh’s experience in the Adventure Team Challenge helped him become more appreciative of veterans and their unique skills that can benefit the nation.
“All the competitors, volunteers and my teammates were outstanding and inspiring. I really felt a personal shift within myself throughout the weekend,” said Walsh. “Being on a team and not wanting to let any one of them down was something I had missed. It also makes you look at the word ‘disabled’ differently because it’s not one I would use for anyone on that weekend with me.”
In addition to riding in Face of America, Walsh also plans on returning to the Adventure Team Challenge in western Utah near Grand Junction this September. “My next training goal is to be in even better shape for that!”
Presented by Capital One Bank, Face of America is supported through sponsorship from American Portfolios Financial Services, Booz Allen Hamilton, Benson Botsford LLC, Brioni, Devens Recycling Center, Freshbikes, Penske Truck Rental, Sila Solutions Group, SUBWAY of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Three Wire Systems, Vedder Price, and Veterans Corps of America. Additional sponsorship support is forthcoming.
Listen to PJ Walsh and Van Brinson talk about Face of America and the Adventure Team Challenge on the February 5, 2016 Kim Power Stilson Show on SiriusXM’s BYUradio.
About World T.E.A.M. Sports
World T.E.A.M. Sports is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization chartered in North Carolina and headquartered in Holbrook, New York. Since its founding in 1993, World T.E.A.M. Sports has organized athletic events for disabled and able bodied citizens — mountain climbing, white water rafting, biking, and more. Four things always happen at our events: (1) Disabled participants build self-confidence and physical fitness; (2) The disabled provide a role model for other disabled citizens, encouraging them to take up physical activities; (3) The disabled become a moving inspiration to other participants and to spectators when they see that disabled individuals can meet challenges beyond anyone’s imagination; and (4) The disabled and able-bodied participants learn to work as a team to overcome those challenges. World T.E.A.M. Sports changes lives through sports.
The latest Episode of the Comic Relief series I do for Military.com was just posted. I want to share “the story behind the story” on this one. I feel it’s fitting today because I’m very thankful for it.
The soldier in this story, Micah, isn’t just a friend, a veteran, a Airman, a PTSD fighter/survivor, and a hero, he is someone who I know for a FACT saved my life. I am here able to write these words right now because of his selfless actions. And I know he gives it very little thought, because it’s just how he’s built.
I often say my favorite audience member is someone I got to entertain overseas in a war zone now back home safe sitting, laughing, blended in amongst the rest. Think about that for a second. When you go to a concert, attend church, support your children’s school function and so on… You may be sitting next to a man or woman much like my friend Micah, silent protectors shouldering life’s often-harsh realities.
It was an eight-hour (give or take) convoy through Iraq in 2005, hot, tense, funny & very real. Fellow comedian Reno Collier and I stared out the windows taking in rare visions and listening to extremely sad country music. Once outside our humvee when we arrived safely in Kuwait, we could see the cracked window from the small arms fire we took on our trip. Micah said “soooo… you’re not supposed to see that… yeah… that was fun.” Nervous laughter followed by all.
How do you thank someone who saved your life? Including someone in a story is my way of showing how grateful I am for them. When asked, “what’s your comedy about?” my reply is “family, friends and life experiences,” all of which mean the world to me.
This is just one person, one example, one story about the type of person we need to be very thankful for: selfless heroes.
The story in this video below is pretty damn funny. Enjoy!
The All Warrior Network created a short documentary about U.S. Army Veteran and now comedian Justin Wood’s inspirational story. I got to play a small part in his journey. Our friendship and Veteran loyalty is captured extremely well. It’s a positive, funny & heartfelt story. You can’t ask for much more than that. Enjoy!