CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. — The Fourth of July weekend always brings a celebration.
Fireworks, of course, play a big role.
However, for many veterans, the booms and pops can trigger feelings of anxiety and depression.
On the Fourth of July, American Legion Post 155 in Crystal River is giving veterans a safe evening filled with camaraderie and entertainment at an “Escape the Fireworks” event.
What You Need To Know
- For many veterans, the booms and pops of the fireworks on Fourth of July can trigger feelings of anxiety and depression
- American Legion Post 155 in Crystal River is giving veterans a safe evening filled with camaraderie and entertainment at an “Escape the Fireworks” event
- The event is being held in memory of U.S. Air Force veteran Sean Liebman
- “Escape the Fireworks” will take place on July 4 from 6 p.m. to midnight at American Legion Post 155, located at 6585 W. Gulf to Lake Highway in Crystal River
The organizer, Vicky Post, says if it helps even just one person, then the event has done its job.
“We’re going to have decorations everywhere. We’re going to have a DJ up on the stage. People can come in, order what they like, free of charge. Our organization will pay for that. They’ve got sandwiches and burgers. We’re probably going to do a pulled pork special,” said Post.
It sounds like a traditional celebration on the Fourth of July, but it’s not.
“It’s going to be very different,” she said.
It will be a way to escape the fireworks.
“I had a good friend, Sean Liebman, who committed suicide last year on the Fourth of July because of the fireworks,” she said.
Liebman served in the United States Air Force for 10 years. Most of that time was spent as a field medic in Afghanistan. He was 30 years old and just celebrated his first year outside of the military last June.
“He had everything going for him. He was a great guy, he always had a smile on his face, he loved his friends, his family, he was a very adventurous kind of guy,” Post said.
Liebman was part of the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals group and was planning to open a gym, had joined a bowling league, and just got his license to teach CPR, but like so many veterans, he suffered in silence with PTSD.
“We figured out it wasn’t necessarily scheduled city fireworks, the 9 to 10 o’clock at night, it was more the into the night, late night fireworks that just kept popping off out of the blue in the middle of nowhere. It was estimated around 3 o’clock in the morning that Sean took his life. So that tells you how many hours he suffered,” said Post.
On the Fourth of July, Post wants American Legion Post 155 to be a place where other veterans with PTSD can find peace so they don’t have to suffer like Liebman.
The American Legion, as a whole, takes suicide prevention very seriously.
“Anyone is more than welcome. Our doors are open to any veteran, anybody who is dealing with PTSD because it affects the families as well and our doors are open,” said Post Commander Douglas Hockenberry.
“If there is somebody here who is really struggling and they do not want to leave, we will stay here till 3 o’clock in the morning, all morning, however long it takes,” said Post.
“Escape the Fireworks” will take place on July 4 from 6 p.m. to midnight at American Legion Post 155, located at 6585 W. Gulf to Lake Highway in Crystal River.