Colonel George Patrin teams up with Patch Adams & the Gesundheit! Institute to study benefits of clowning with vets

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georgeguatamalaCOL(Ret) George Patrin, a Children's Mental Health Network Advisor and Morning Zen contributor, has recently returned from a second International Community Clowning Trip with Dr. Patch Adams of the Gesundheit! Foundation. Dr. Patrin's first trip with Patch was to Russia in Nov 2012  to visit orphanages, senior homes, and hospitals. Surrounded by the love, giving, and friendship of new clown soul mates, George had an unexpected improvement in PTSD symptoms and depression resulting from his 23 years of active Army service and two deployments to a combat zone, complicated by the suicide death of his 20 year old son five years ago. While psychotherapy, support groups, and men's grief therapy were helpful, this two week experience so changed him that his wife and family, especially his 1 1/2-year-old grand-daughter, noticed the remarkable difference immediately. 

Gesundheit! Spring Break in Guatemala
george and friendsThe pictures on this page are from the trip March 7-14, 2015, which is the traditional Spring Break trip to Guatemala for Gesundheit!.
 (See The Gesundheit InstituteDr. Patrin went along to clown again and enjoy the experience but also to scope out the location and brainstorm issues that might arise returning with all Veterans as opposed to the usual International mix of attendees on these trips. This group was made up of citizens of the US (TX, CA, WA, VA), Mexico, Bolivia, Panama, and Canada). Guatemala is an ideal clowning location as the country has an established humanitarian clowning program (called Fabricas) and the hotel is a private bed and breakfast where the troupe can decompress each evening and check on how the day's visits are affecting the troupe. Prior clowning is NOT expected nor required to go on any Gesundheit! Humanitarian Community Clowning Trip.

Clowning with veterans
george and patchGeorge spoke with Patch Adams on the trip home resolved to work with Patch's Gesundheit! and George's Serendipity Alliance to conduct a future clown trip with Veterans to determine if this effect was universal. Over the past two years they have written a research protocol with the Chicago VA to arrange for Veterans currently in therapy due to any number of conditions - PTSD, TBI, depression, addictions, anxiety and/or suicidal ideation - to go to Guatemala.


  1. bruce burrow's avatar
    bruce burrow
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    Dear George I am an Australian Veteran of the War in Vietnam 1967/68. I toured Russia with Patch and Clown Dr's in 1999 & 2000. I have also clowned independently in Chinese and Vietnamese Orphanages and Hospitals as part of my healing process coping with PTSD. I have also meditated with Vietnamese Monk 'Thich Nhat Hanh'. 'Thay' has worked with US Veterans he is a contemporary of the Buddhist Monks who self immolated during the war. During 2016 using skills of compassion acquired from Patch I was instrumental in bringing together the family of the first 'Fragged' (murdered) Australian Officer & Veteran's of his/& my unit after 49 years at a launch of a book 'GUNNERS VIETNAM 67/68'of which I am lead researcher/author and Editor. The healing effect on both the murdered officer's family and my fellow Veterans has been most beneficial. I go in October 2017 to clown in Orphanages at 'Dien Bien Phu Vietnam' with a fellow Veteran who lives there and who assists the Orphanage management. Regards from AKA 'Brucey the Bush Clown'.
  2. Patti Derr's avatar
    Patti Derr
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    I serve on a few committees with Colonel Patrin in San Antonio, and am so impressed with his Passion for serving children, youth and their families We met in 2007 during the deployment video production and then he PCSd to California . Currently, I've been eagerly awaiting his return from Guatamala as we have a few youth to collaborate with. We have planned to take a ride to meet with another of my heroes in the field of serving children with very significant behaviors, Mitch Bayes. These guys make Texas better for this population of children and I am positive that their combined faith will help Texas families even more.
  3. George Patrin, MD/MHA, San Antonio, TX's avatar
    George Patrin, MD/MHA, San Antonio, TX
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    Thanks to Scott for posting this on the CMHN. Children are a huge part of clowning trips and bringing the inner child out is major transformation for the clowns. This is first of its kind innovative research, hopefully breaking the standard of care mold concerning therapy for mental health conditions and life stressors in general, be they in military or civilian life!
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