A warning for you as you celebrate the Fourth of July: some of our neighbors are asking us to think about them before you light off all of those fireworks.
For many veterans, it can be traumatic.
You’ve probably heard the loud bangs of fireworks randomly the last few weeks. It’s those that can be harmful to veterans battling PTSD.
When you think of the Fourth of July, one of the first thoughts is fireworks. But Keith Ross wants people to think of who might be around you.
“Especially for the non-veterans to be conscientious that there are veterans and American heroes living around them even if they don’t know that they’re there,” said Ross, a veteran outreach program specialist.
Ross says it’s not the fireworks that go off on the holiday or even the days surrounding it. It’s the ones that randomly go off weeks before that are unexpected.
“It’s hard to be hyper-vigilant for months at a time. And it usually seems like whenever they let their guard down that always seems to be when it happens,” Ross said.
In the past, he’s handed out free signs for veterans to place in their yard to remind neighbors, because he says the flashbacks can be horrible for some veterans.
“We have had veterans report where they actually feel like they’re right back in their conflict that they were involved in,” said Ross.
Reliving the nightmares is why Sandy Deavers and her late husband Randy stayed inside.
“It didn’t matter what he would still be upset when you heard the noises and it brought back all the memories of Vietnam for him,” said Deavers, whose husband suffered from fireworks-related PTSD.
She says he dealt with nightmares constantly.
But Ross knows for others, one loud bang could be the final straw.
“It’s hard to understand what goes on in someone’s mind when they get into that stage. Unfortunately, a lot of veterans to suicide as a way to end the hurt,” said Ross.
Now Ross doesn’t want people to outright stop setting off fireworks to celebrate the holiday. He just asks that people be respectful and look around.
Oftentimes those same veterans would love to enjoy them with you, but give them a heads up and don’t set off loud mortars at random parts of the day.