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A ‘Laid-Back’ Celebration Planned For PTSD Sufferers

Photo provided Darla Schnegg, left, is welcomed as the new president of the Bethesda-Belmont-Morristown Club Rotary Club by past president Dirk Davis. The club is hosting an event for veterans and others Sunday at the Union Local High School gym related to the fireworks display.

BETHESDA — To give those who suffer from PTSD a quiet place to celebrate Independence Day, a local rotary club is planning an event this weekend at the Union Local High School gym.

Members of the Bethesda-Belmont-Morristown Rotary Club are slated to host the free event Sunday, July 12 with the doors opening at 8 p.m.

The village of Bethesda is set to let off its fireworks around dusk Sunday.

Club member Taylore Frasnelly said everyone is invited, but especially veterans and first responders who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sometimes the sounds and sights of fireworks bother both veterans and others who have been in combat situations. Many will avoid such celebrations to also avoid the impact fireworks has on them.

“People who suffer from PTSD, such as combat veterans or first responders who have negative reactions to fireworks, can join us for a more laid-back or relaxed viewing of the fireworks,” she said.

A viewing area inside the gym with a live feed of the Bethesda fireworks will be set up on a screen for people to watch; however, there will be no sound.

For those who do not want to watch at all, the area will be separate in the gym.

Sandwiches will be served to attendees. Those who would like to bring a baked good can send a message to the club via its Facebook page — Bethesda-Belmont-Morristown Rotary Club.

“It’s very important to have something like this where people feel included and can relax and celebrate along with us,” Frasnelly said.

In addition to the meal, a bean bag toss game will be set up in the gym for people to play.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing will be observed in the gym. People are asked to bring a mask, and participants’ temperatures will be checked at the door.

“I think many of us get to enjoy Independence Day and we’re used to fireworks and cookouts, but it’s stressful for anyone with PTSD and I think it can be a very lonely time,” she said.

Frasnelly said this is the first time her club has hosted such an event and she hopes others will do the same in the future across the Ohio Valley.

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