Group offering fireworks-free July 4th celebration for veterans

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While many people equate Independence Day with cookouts, time on the water and fireworks, some veterans say the day can be a frightening one for some of their own.

"Definitely explosions, especially the ones you're not expecting, for me I still get the shakes," said Johnathan Duncan, a veteran who spent 18 months in Iraq and ten years overall with the Kansas Army National Guard.

Duncan says the effects of those months caught up with him.

"Leaving a war zone, where you have to be on high alert, and you have been on high alert for a year or maybe more, and coming back home is a tough transition to make," said Duncan.

He calls PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by a different name: PTS.

"I don't call it a disorder because it's not a disorder. It's a regular reaction to something that's very irregular," said Duncan. He says he's grateful that Symbiotic Behavioral Treatment recognized the need for a different type of Independence Day celebration.

"July 4th became a common theme about needing an extra beer or something like that—it just seemed like something that would be fun," said Anthony Barnett, executive director of Symbiotic, and he says as a civilian who volunteered with a lot of veterans he noticed the need for an indoor event-such as a movie at Screenland in the Crossroads with food and drinks-and a place for veterans and current service members to be together.

"We want it to be during the day because for the people that I've talked to it's just the more unpredictable, random stuff during the day that's really a trigger as opposed to going to a fireworks show at night," said Barnett.

He says it's just an option for those who need it, and it's one Duncan will choose on Saturday.

"I don't feel that the veterans who served our country should have to forego celebrating the Fourth of July because of PTS, so this is a place where they can go. They can celebrate with like-minded people, and that's something that's important to me," said Duncan.

The event starts Saturday at 2:00 at the Screenland Crossroads. The movie will start at 3:30. Veterans and current service members will get discounted food and drinks.