As the Fourth of July approaches, plans of barbequing, celebrating with friends and family are one everyone’s minds, and watching fireworks. We assume every aspect of this celebration of Freedom is always joyous, but is it?
For some veterans Independence Day is a time when their Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) leaves them the most vulnerable. The abrupt explosions of bottle rockets and other backyard fireworks can trigger a veteran’s PTSD symptoms, which can last minutes, hours, and even days after.
Not only does this mentally and physically exhaust individuals; it can also be embarrassing for them. They are fully aware of their safety but these noises can cause them to react in a way as if they were still in combat. At the unexpected sound of fireworks sufferers of combat related to PTSC may get low to the ground, look for cover, or even seclude themselves.
It is important to note that this is not a call to end the festivities; veterans do not want that. This is a celebration of our country gaining freedom and we should always celebrate that.
Instead, this is a call to be more mindful of the time and place you use fireworks. This awareness should occur any time of the year. If you know of any veterans in your area potentially benefitting from a warning, share that you will be setting fireworks off ahead of time.
Veterans often do not mind big planned firework events, because they are able to prepare for them. It is the sudden and unexpected pops and bangs which can trigger the flashback and other PTSD symptoms.
So please be courteous to your neighbors this weekend. Doing this allows you to enjoy the Fourth of July the way you want and gives veterans the chance to as well. It not only gives us a ability to celebrate our freedom, but gives us the opportunity to honor those who serve and have served.