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ESL Jefferson Award winner: Dave Difranco, comedian helps veterans overcome PTSD through humor

May 10, 2019 06:12 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — When soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen come home after a tour of duty, they can carry with them emotional baggage. This 2019 ESL Jefferson Award winner believes laughter is the best medicine.

Dave Difranco told News10NBC that he's dedicating his life to help veterans get well. 

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"I believe in healing through humor," said Difranco, founder of Combat Comedians and president of Veterans Plus Assitance Corporation (VPAC). 

Humor helped dave Difranco during difficult times in his life. And now he's using it to help veterans. 

Berkeley Brean, News10NBC: "So you try to take what's hurting these veterans and turn it into comedy?"

Dave Difranco: "Yes. Yes because humor is confession."

Four years ago, Difranco started Combat Comedians. He and other funny men help veterans write stand up material that pokes fun at their post-traumatic stress. 

Brean: "It's such a serious thing though." 

Difranco: "Yeah." 

Brean: "How can you joke about something so serious?" 

Difranco: "That's why we work hard at what we do. It's simply this: if we can get them to face it because in their mind it's so much bigger than them. If we get them to face it on even terms and then joke about it, it knocks down that demon to the point where they can kick it to the curb."

The nomination for Difranco says he volunteers 30 hours a week for veterans, including his work for VPAC. He got the comedy idea when his brother, a veteran, needed his help. 

"I feel I won it because of the hard work of the people around me put into it," Difranco said. "And when you see them performing, you can thank them for their service over there but when they our veterans performing to raise money for good causes, here's an opportunity to thank them for their service now."

Difranco was also selected to attend the Jefferson Awards National Ceremony in Washington, D.C. this year.

Click here to learn about the other 2019 ESL Jefferson Award winners.

Credits

Berkeley Brean

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