Northern Wyoming News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Tracie Mitchell
Staff Writer 

Fireworks not fun for everyone


July 2, 2016

Courtesy/ militarywithptsd Facebook page

WORLAND – As evening approaches on the Fourth of July many adults and children wait with excitement for the tradition fireworks display. But not everyone is filled with excitement: some people are filled with dread and apprehension, including combat veterans with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

"Fireworks, in particular the real concussive, loud and bright fireworks that you sometimes see during the Fourth of July, they can be a source of pretty significant distress for some combat veterans with PTSD. It is fairly common for exposure to those kinds of fireworks to trigger symptoms in veterans with PTSD, such as nightmares, flashbacks, increased anxiety, depression or other kinds of feelings that might be associated with their traumatic experiences. It is a fairly common source of distress for some veterans with PTSD," Sheridan Veterans Administration Health Care System staff psychologist said.

Not all combat veterans are affected by fireworks as not all combat veterans have PTSD. "It is a relatively small percentage of combat veterans that actually develop significant symptoms of PTSD. Sometimes there can be a misconception by the public that if you've been in combat or if you experienced trauma in the military that you are going to have PTSD and that fireworks are going to be trouble for you and that's simply not the case. Depending on the era of service and the kind of traumatic experiences that somebody has endured, it's really a minority of combat veterans that develop significant symptoms. It's really only somewhere between 15 and 23 percent of combat veterans that develop that kind of disorder," Crawford stated.

Before setting off fireworks, talking with your neighbors is a good way to find out if your enjoyment will become someone else's nightmare. "Folks living in neighborhoods where they know that there are combat veterans or maybe combat veterans that do have some PTSD symptoms. I think rather than assuming that that person is going to have difficulty with the fireworks or thinking that there is going to be no problem at all, it is a good opportunity to start an open conversation about the impact of those kinds of fireworks on people. To include veterans and to discuss with your neighbors who might be veterans what their preferences are and if they have any concerns about the Fourth of July weekend or any of the festivities that sometimes come with it," Crawford said. "It's a way to demonstrate respect for veterans by asking them what their preferences are and if they have any concerns about these kinds of issues. Give that veteran a chance to contribute to the solution too," Crawford added.

Also be on the lookout for signs in your neighbors yards letting people know that a combat veteran lives there. "There are signs that have been produced that some veterans are putting in and around their property that state specifically that there are veterans with PTSD and asking people to be respectful with their fireworks. If you are in a neighborhood and you see some of those signs that would be a good cue to begin having that kind of conversation about what the veterans concerns might be, and how to come to an agreement about what would be a good way to address the weekend," Crawford said.

Respecting your neighbors who have difficulties with fireworks ensures that everyone will have a safe and happy Fourth of July.


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