COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - As we celebrate our independence this July 4, that will likely mean lots of fireworks here in the Midlands and that can be a problem for some of our veterans living in the area.
The Sumter Veterans Association kicked off a new yard sign campaign Friday. These signs were designed so that our veterans can better enjoy the holiday.
For some, the Fourth of July can be one of the toughest days of the year for our vets. The signs hope to bring awareness to the issue of fireworks and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Two Vietnam War veterans, Willie Washington and Richard Grimsley, both say they have PTSD.
"Fireworks or a car backfire, anything like that, it would scare me to death," Washington said.
While these two veterans can admit to the challenges they face with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, they say it is not an easy thing to do.
"There's a lot of veterans out there that are not getting the help that they need because they're not going themselves and they need someone to encourage them," Washington said.
Grimsley says he could not even talk about it at first.
"It took me over 11 years. I was doing some things that my wife said was very unusual."
Grimsley says after serving in Vietnam, he began having nightmares.
"We have one dog that sleeps right on the floor near me and, unfortunately, Angel was her name – she got the brunt of it one night. I, literally, attacked her! That's when I finally figured out that I need some help." Grimsley said.
Even for vets who are receiving treatment for PTSD, there are still triggers.
"Some of those fireworks are like, simply like a cannon firing off and it scares the heck out of me," says Grimsley.
An all new yard sign campaign by the Sumter Veterans Association hopes to bring awareness to the issue.
Larry Huff is the chairman of the Sumter County Veterans Association Chairman.
"War is hell, and what they went through to keep this country free, we owe them quite a bit," Huff said.
"So, I'm just hoping that they see this, they'll be a little more courteous. Shoot them off right after it gets dark, don't drag it out through the rest of the night and then come back and pick up your mess," Grimsley said, with a laugh.