Fireworks are a part of 4th of July celebrating that many look forward to, but for veterans living with PTSD, the loud explosions could spark anxiety or traumatic memories.
“If you’re going about your regular day and all of a sudden you hear a large explosion that you weren’t expecting– it could almost startle anyone– but there’s an added level if you have any kind of post traumatic stress from a deployment,” said Ty Oswald, President of Bearded Warriors, a group that helps veterans. He got back home from serving in 2004.
“I was home on July 8th and since we live out in the county, there were people still setting off fireworks. It was an abrupt awakening. It was just unexpected. Having been so recently deployed, it startled me.”
Oswald recommends some advice given to him: communicate with your neighbors.
“If you’re a neighbor of a veteran say hey, we will be shooting fireworks at this time — I just wanted to give you a heads up — I didn’t know if it would be an issue,” said Oswald. “On the flip side, if you’re a veteran and you may have an issue with being surprised because of the explosions because you don’t necessarily know what time, walk over to your neighbor what time they will set things off so you can take some proactive measures.”
Oswald says fireworks may or may not impact veterans. It just depends on the person.
“For me honestly, doing the explosions is kind of a relief factor for me– one because I get to set it off and then watch it and experience it in a different way versus it being shocking,” said Oswald.