Be Mindful This Holiday Weekend…

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Fourth of July fireworks an issue for some veterans with PTSD

While thousands of people are excited to enjoy the “bombs bursting in air” on  Independence Day, some of the men and women who fought for our freedom are suffering because of them.

Apparently, doctors at the Veterans Affairs Hospitals see a spike in veterans seeking counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder on the 4th of July.

“They’re constantly on edge because the fireworks remind of combat exposure and combat experiences,” Dr. Steven Allen said.

Of the roughly 2.5 million troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, research shows between 7 and 20 percent develop PTSD. Dr. Allen said that when fireworks ignite, some vets go to the mountains to get away from the loud concussions.

“Folks are on edge, they have a hard time relaxing particularly here in Utah with the 4th and the 24th, they have a hard time sleeping because there’s fireworks often late at night that make them think they’re under attack,” Dr. Allen said.

Some veterans have started putting a sign in their yard, announcing themselves as combat veterans and asking neighbors to be courteous with fireworks.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Dr. Allen said. “Veterans are likely to not want to say that themselves but other people will, and it’s been an issue year after year for many of the veterans I’ve worked with…When people who have been in combat can expect noises they do much better than when they’re unexpected, like in the middle of the night.”

The moral of the story is: Get to know your community; if you know that a neighbor is a combat veteran, give them a heads-up if you’re going to light fireworks near their home. Have a little respect for those offered their lives so that you didn’t have to.