The sound of a beautiful firework overhead and the children cheer. For most of us, the sounds of fireworks do very little other than remind us of the July 4th holiday. However, to a combat veteran, the boom of a firework is an all too familiar sound. We’ve probably all seen our dogs freak out when the first firework erupts. The dog rushes to safety, certain it is under attack from the fire in the sky. For soldiers suffering from PTSD, the immediate reaction can be very much the same.
Imagine you are in Afghanistan and you’ve been receiving mortar rounds overhead all day long. With each bang, you are reminded that you are in a war zone. Now, flashback to your family cookout and think about your neighbors. Are any of them combat veterans? If so, consider one of these tips to help take away the “panic” reflex they might feel.
1. Eliminate surprises. If you know a veteran in your neighborhood, knock on their door and let them know about your plans. Heck, invite them over for the cookout!
2. Be aware of the days you use fireworks. Are you having a July 4thcelebration or are you planning on celebrating several days before or after? July 2-6th is one thing, but if you are still shooting off fireworks in August, this is far more likely to stress out your neighbor.
3. Start with a few small fireworks. Begin your evening with some “low impact” fireworks and let it build from there. This will help reduce the onset of shock from sudden explosions in the sky without any warning.
So this July 4th, hang out with your veteran friends and celebrate your freedom! Don’t be afraid to use fireworks, just be considerate.