Local veterans organize a 'new' kind of Veterans Day celebration - KMOV.com

Local veterans organize a 'new' kind of Veterans Day celebration

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A group of St. Louis-area veterans is trying to get the word out about the new way they plan to mark Veterans Day this year.

They are having a party without any formalities, ceremonies, praises, sponsors, or fundraising. Just beer, meat, ping pong, music, and stories that probably involve some cussing.

“While the community support offered on Veterans Day is essential to the well-being of our veterans, it is also exhausting for many of us to attend the parades, eat the cake, see all the flags and be involved in the emotion,” said Mike Pereira, one of the event organizers.

Pereira helped found the Washington University Students Veterans Association in St. Louis. He has also worked with Gov. Eric Greitens’ nonprofit “The Mission Continues.” Pereira lives that mission every day as a former sergeant in the U.S. Army.

After six years in the service, including two combat deployments, Pereira suffered from a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, between 11-20 percent of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are diagnosed with PTSD.

Pereira and other veterans agree sometimes the most therapeutic and healing thing for them is to simply be around other people who “get it.” But, they argue, many traditional Veterans Day ceremonies don’t offer veterans time to sit and casually talk to each other.

“A lot of us feel uncomfortable with the pomp and circumstance,” said James Petersen, a Marine veteran who graduated from Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work. Petersen is helping plan the upcoming Veterans Day party which he describes as “just for veterans, it’s completely informal. The only theme is veterans getting together with fellow veterans.”

Peterson stresses the event is open to all veterans, from those who served in World War II to recent deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The event is planned for November 11 from 6 – 10 p.m. at VFW Post 3500 on Big Bend, 53117.

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