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Fireworks as a trigger for PTSD - Fourth of July Info to Keep in Mind!
July 3, 2014
How Fourth of July Celebrations Affect Veterans with PTSD
July 3, 2014
The July 4th Holiday should be a time to celebrate our veterans who served in combat, but this holiday week can be a time of real anxiety for many veterans. Kyle Koons of Chambersburg served in both Afghanistan and Iraq with the Marines and says this is not something veterans like to talk about. He says the first July 4th he experienced when he got home was different than any before.
Fireworks made him nervous, jittery and jumpy.
"You can't sleep for the rest of the night, just depending what it triggers." Statistics show that 30 percent of our service men and women have come home with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and now they are finding out that fireworks can be a trigger.
Kyle, like many other veterans, can avoid the big hometown fireworks show but they are often caught off guard by the little pops and booms that happen in backyards during July 4th week.
"I am definitely a patriot and want people to celebrate it, but be more cautious to veterans because everyone reacts differently to it."
Kyle says people should put a sign in their yards to let people know when they will be setting off fireworks, that way veterans can be prepared for the noise.
Here's some tips from psychological experts in the military on how you can help veterans in your neighborhood:
* If lighting fireworks outside your house, check to see if any neighbors are veterans. If so, warn them ahead of time
* Avoid using fireworks with loud bangs - the louder the bang the worse it is for the veteran
* Go to a remote area to set off fireworks where there is less of a chance you will disturb others
There are also tips for Veterans/Active Military Service Members:
* Must balance the desire to take part in social activities on the holiday with danger that fireworks can trigger PTSD symptoms
* Avoid large firework displays if possible - large crowds also enhance the chances of having a PTSD reaction
* Wear earplugs
* Have support system with you - family/friends that are aware of your PTSD symptoms and reactions and can assist you if you go into any emotional distress
* Have an exit strategy - know where, when, and how to exit an event if your PTSD symptoms are triggered
* Warn any neighbors in advance of your possible PTSD reactions to fireworks