As of June 20, summer around the country is in full bloom. With the warm summer weather comes barbecues, hikes and, of course, Fourth of July fireworks to celebrate our independence as a country.
However, the same loud screams and pops of fireworks that often send dogs scrambling onto owners’ laps for safety can have profound effects on humans as well. For combat veterans, the Fourth of July isn’t about celebrating, it’s about remaining out of earshot of potentially triggering explosions.
To someone who hasn’t experienced combat or suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the Fourth of July is a beautiful, almost awe-inspiring occasion as the dark night sky is illuminated with explosions of every color. It’s a time for sharing snacks, lounging back on a blanket resting on some soft grass with your family and enjoying a few thousand dollars worth of fireworks crack, fizzle and pop. To others, it’s a potentially harrowing experience.
It’s estimated by the Department of Veteran Affairs that around 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women experience a large-scale traumatic event in their lives. About 7 or 8 percent of the US population will then be diagnosed with PTSD in life. That number jumps to between 11 and 20 percent when solely combat veterans are examined.
For those with PTSD, fireworks and other sudden, loud sounds can be incredibly triggering, leading to panic attacks. This is precisely why the nonprofit Military with PTSD was started, to help take strides in improving the lives of military service men and women who are prone to panic attacks from firework celebrations.
Signs reading “Combat Veteran Lives Here, Please be Courteous With Fireworks” have been handed out for free to vets who request them, funded completely by donations to the nonprofit. These signs, according to CNN, aim to serve as a warning to those who plan to shoot fireworks off near the homes of those who suffer from PTSD, asking that they please give notice to the veterans before celebrating. Many attacks can be triggered by the surprise of the bangs and booms, rather than the actual sounds themselves.
The goal of nonprofits like Military with PTSD and its Explosion of Kindness campaign aren’t to eliminate fireworks on the fourth or prohibit them from being set off around neighborhoods with high populations of vets. The mission is simply to bring awareness of how something that seems as trivial, lighthearted and fun as an impromptu firework show can affect others. Instead of throwing your firecrackers in the trash, simply warn your neighbors before you set them off–or even invite them out to watch! While some veterans avoid fireworks as a whole, others can (and do) enjoy them given proper warning ahead of time.
Awareness and courtesy are the biggest factors that can benefit military veterans around holidays. Simply paying mind to those around you not only on the Fourth of July, but year-round can help prevent suffering that you may not see.
To help provide lawn signs to veterans who suffer from PTSD, visit Military with PTSD’s Global Giving page here, where small donations can help vets around the country in need.