Patriotic Holidays Aren’t Celebrations for Everyone: PTSD and Fireworks

fireworksFight for Freedom

This Memorial Day, and upcoming Fourth of July, keep our veterans and active military members in mind.

While you’re celebrating and cheering as loud fireworks burst in the sky, somewhere close by, a combat veteran is pacing, agitated, panicked, trying to remember where he is. Heart racing with mind lost in a memory, he struggles to remain calm.

PTSD Is Common In Combat Vets

He is not alone. The research isn’t exact, but an estimated 7% to 20% of the 2.5 million plus veterans and troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are believed to have developed post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Soldier Watches FireworksPTSD causes sufferers to re-live or re-experience traumatic situations via flashbacks, panic attacks or fugue states and it’s characterized by strong emotional reactions, symptoms mirroring severe mental illness (including depression, suicidal ideation, social anxiety, etc) and personality/behavioral changes.

Triggers vary for each individual, but typically, environmental encounters that are sensorily similar to those  occurring in the traumatic event can set off a PTSD episode.The episodes are involuntary, and the sufferer can’t just “snap out of it” or decide not to have it. When the trigger occurs, the veteran or individual in question can be mentally thrown back to a time or place he or she would rather forget, like the death of a battle buddy, a firefight, mortar blasts, an IED explosion or other horrible and painful experiences.

Please keep in mind your neighbors and friends this holiday season. Personally, I have never stopped to imagine what they might go through every time I’m celebrating. Please share this information and give our Veterans a well deserved night of patriotic celebration.


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