Fireworks are nightmare for service members with PTSD

Posted at 4:30 PM, Jul 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-04 19:59:42-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Fireworks are an iconic and traditional way to celebrate the Fourth of July, but for some veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the noisemakers can trigger terrifying memories.

Military with PTSD, an online support group, is raising awareness about the men and women who fought for freedom who now suffer through Independence Day fireworks.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 11 to 20 percent of the troops who served in Afghanistan and Iraq have developed PTSD .

John McGuire, who served our country as a Navy Seal, said he knows how real PTSD is.

"It is a real problem. You may not understand it, but it basically can handcuff a person. They won't leave the house. It immobilizes them from living a normal life," McGuire explained.

Fireworks, especially unexpected ones, can be a trigger, stirring nightmares and making some people think that they are under attack as they flashback to combat.

There are pictures of veterans posting signs in their yards asking neighbors to be courteous when shooting fireworks.

These pictures recently spotted on social media have gone viral and have been shared thousands of times on Facebook.

McGuire said this Fourth of July is a good time to remind everyone that a little courtesy goes a long way.

"They love our country. They love our people. We love the Fourth of July and it is one of our favorite holidays," McGuire said. "You never know what's going on in a person's mind or what their experience is, so give a little respect. Let them know you're going to have some fireworks."

Experts suggest there are ways to subdue the noises. For example, noise cancelling headsets might help. It is also recommended that the soldier wear the headsets or earplugs for a few weeks past the holiday.

There’s also a national hotline, The National Outreach for PTSD sufferers, which is open 24-7, 365 days a year. Call 1-877-717-PTSD (7873).

The hotline is available for soldiers who may need to speak with someone and are not ready to fully disclose their condition to family members.



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