MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) — A former Marine injured in a 2007 Sofa Super Store fire that took the lives of nine firefighters in Charleston is using his past to help others through comedy.

Travis Howze is a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, former patrol officer with North Charleston Police Department and a former firefighter with the Charleston Fire Department.

Image courtesy Travis Howze

“I was always attracted to the professions with action and vulnerability, and I guess that’s part of why comedy drew me to the stage as well,” Howze said.  

Howze said he was diagnosed with PTSD, depression, and survivor’s guilt after being injured in the fire.

“I was a part of the body recovery team of my fallen brothers and I had to go in,” Howze said. “There were 15 to 20 of us on that team. We had to spend all night in that building, locating our fallen brothers and pulling them out one by one and that’s where a lot of the mental anguish came for me.”

After that, he started using stand-up comedy as therapy.

“I was injured in that fire and I needed something to make me feel good again and they say laughter is the best medicine,” Howze said. “And I started comedy just for fun and it actually took off and turned into a wonderful career for me and I’ve never looked back.”

Since then, he’s traveled telling his story through jokes and making people laugh.

“On stage I talk about my path through my various professions,” Howze said. “I was a United States Marine Corps veteran infantry guy, I was a police officer for awhile, I was a firefighter for awhile and I do jokes about each one of those professions.”

Howze recently wrote and released a book, called “Create Your Own Light” where he tells his story and his struggles with mental health.

“Mental health is not something people can talk about easily because a lot of people get embarrassed about it,” Howze said. “A lot of people feel it makes them look weak, especially in the professions that I was a member of, marines, police, fire department, we don’t talk about these things openly because we don’t want to look down upon by our peers.”

Howze added that, “Now knowing what I know about mental health and what it really is and how bad it really is affecting our communities, I speak as openly about it as I possibly can because I want others to see that it’s ok to not be ok and they too can reach out for help.” 

His book is on Amazon’s Top 10 Best Sellers in Military New Releases.

“The reason that is cause no one’s really out there talking about mental health the way that I am. I’m very open about it, I’m very transparent about it,” Howze said. “I talk very in-depth about what post-traumatic stress really is, what it will do to you, and how it will hurt you and everyone around you.”

Howze will be performing this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Carolina Comedy Club. He’ll headline two shows Friday the 4th and Saturday the 5th, both at 7 and 9 pm. Sunday’s show starts at 8 pm. Information on tickets can be found here.

Travis’s book, “Create Your Own Light” can be found on Amazon.

Travis also encourages people to reach out to him through his social media accounts and give him a follow.

Instagram: @travishowze

Facebook: @funnyunderfire