PTSD and the 4th of July

It is ironic that the 4th of July is celebrated by our nation with fireworks, but many soldiers who paid the price for the freedoms we enjoy suffer as a result of the explosions from fireworks and the related emotional triggers. For one select individual, fireworks and PTSD related triggers led the veteran to publicly voiced his concern. An article from USA Today provides an example of one veteran who is affected so much by fireworks he held a sign expressing concerns about fireworks.

“Combat veteran lives here, please be courteous with fireworks,” reads the poster held by the veteran.

The article indicates emotional reactions to loud noises or sounds that bring memories of traumatic events can be very common among veterans and non-veterans. The main concern is not that a veteran might react violently, but that the fireworks could send somebody into a very painful, stressful, emotional experience remembering a firefight or a buddy who was killed.

Research findings differ, but an estimated 7% to 20% of the more than 2.5 million veterans and troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are believed to have developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to the article.

The disorder is characterized by emotionally re-experiencing or remembering traumatic events, the thoughts involuntarily triggered for combat veterans by the sound of an explosion or gunfire, or even certain sights and smells, according to a recent report by the Institute of Medicine. This can cause a variety of reactions, including altering mood or triggering hypervigilance or a need to avoid people and places.

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