Vegas-based comedy group featured in upcoming documentary

In a way, Don Barnhart owes his comedy career to the military.

He went to enlist in 1981, but the recruitment office happened to be closed that day. Instead, he took a job as a doorman at a comedy club after seeing a "Help Wanted" sign while he was skateboarding home.

But his desire to support the troops never went away, and he began producing comedy shows for the armed forces in 1992.

The tours were laid back in the 90s, according to Don. But things changed after 9/11.

"Everybody went to full alert," he said. Now when he visits bases, he has to wear full gear, including helmets and body armor.

Don's comedy troop, called "Battle Comics," travels to bases far beyond where most big-name celebrities will go.

"We've had some pretty close calls," he said. "There have been missiles fired on the base during a show."

But Don reiterated over and over again that he always felt safe being surrounded by soldiers with unmatched dedication to their country. He recalled visiting many injured soldiers who were upset not because of their injuries, but because they weren't able to help their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

That level of dedication can take an emotional toll on any soldier. Don continues to produce comedy shows for the military because he hopes that bringing the troops a moment of levity can help them cope with the harsh realities of war.

"We are the waterboy of the Superbowl team," said Don. "It's our job to go out there and make sure [our soldiers] are not forgotten."

Don and his comedy team will be featured in the upcoming documentary called "I Am Battle Comic." The film will premier at AMC Town Square on May 31 at 9 p.m. 100 percent of the ticket sales will benefit the For Veterans Sake Foundation, which provides service dogs to veterans suffering from PTSD.

You can also catch Don Barnhart during his nightly shows at Jokesters inside the D hotel-casino. He offers 2-for-1 ticket specials for military members.

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