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

April 05, 2015

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.

  • The trip is scheduled for October 10-18, 2015. 
  • Providers caring for Veterans who might benefit from this groundbreaking Gesundheit! research trip can contact George at
  • This first trip can take only 10 Vets, but they will start a waiting list for future trips, should this prototype trip have the results expected for the first ten selected.
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