Be courteous of veterans with PTSD today - - Columbia, South Carolina

Be courteous of veterans with PTSD today

(Source: Pablo) (Source: Pablo)

Today we celebrate Fourth of July and many families will be outside tonight shooting fireworks and having a good time. However, there are some who may be suffering in silence behind closed doors with PTSD. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The disorder has a huge effect on veterans in particular during today's holiday. 

The sound of fireworks can be very similar to sounds of gunshots and set off a PTSD attack. According to, sudden and loud noises can trigger episodes of PTSD, bringing veterans back to traumatic experiences they have lived through during their service. USDVA says, up to 20% of military personnel who served in Iraq or Afghanistan experience PTSD each year.

Here are some symptoms of PTSD via USDVA

  • Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms): You may have bad memories or nightmares. You even may feel like you're going through the event again. This is called a flashback.

  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event: You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.

  • Having more negative beliefs and feelings: The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel guilt or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. You may feel that the world is dangerous and you can't trust anyone. You might be numb, or find it hard to feel happy.

  • Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal): You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. Or, you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. You might suddenly get angry or irritable, startle easily, or act in unhealthy ways (like smoking, using drugs and alcohol, or driving recklessly.

So, what do you do if you enjoy fireworks but don't want to trigger someone with PTSD? says those with PTSD can be better prepared to cope with symptoms by having advanced knowledge of a fireworks display. There are also fireworks that aren't so loud such as the purple haze or sparklers that can be used instead. And if you see someone who is triggered, there are relaxation techniques and distractions such as putting on earplugs or headphones with music. 

Whether you are suffering with PTSD or not, a suggestion would be to place a sign outside today that says "PTSD alert: Please be courteous with fireworks". And if you see a sign in your neighborhood, be mindful of who you may affect. 

Happy Independence Day everyone!

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