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Need a laugh? This comedy boot camp helps veterans find a new sense of purpose.

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Need a laugh? This comedy boot camp helps veterans find a new sense of purpose.

WATCH | These vets use laughter to help transition back into civilian life


A different kind of boot camp

The Armed Services Arts Partnership's (ASAP) comedy boot camp is the first-ever stand-up comedy class for veterans, service members and military family members.

Workshops and classes are led by professionals who help veterans write, practice and perform comedy skits.

It's an eight-week course that aims to help veterans, "re-enter, find a voice and thrive in their communities," according to the organization's website.

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Veterans can sign up for classes free of charge, an opportunity made available thanks to public and private donations.

ASAP served more than 300 veterans in its first year, and its founders aim to serve more.

So... why comedy?

ASAP's co-founder, Sam Pressler, told Circa he'd gotten the idea to start a comedy boot camp for veterans in college.

He'd been learning about veteran suicide rates and the challenges most veterans face in their transition from the military to civilian life.

It was also around that time that he'd lost a loved one. He'd remembered a big part of what helped his family cope and get through a difficult time was laughter and each other.

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According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly 50,000 veterans in the United States are homeless.

Some of the veterans recently performed at the White House.

At the end of the seven-week course the veterans showcase their performance for their boot camp-mates, family members, friends and other audience members.

"Comedy really helps me at times when I would otherwise be really frustrated or starting to get angry," said comedy boot camp alum and former U.S. Coast Guard Michael Lake. "I'll try and find the humor in the situation to try and work it into my routine at a later time."

Follow Kay Angrum on Twitter @kayangrum.

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