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Experts urge neighbors to let veterans know they will be setting off firecrackers or other small explosives to celebrate Independence Day

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The Indiana-based group Military with PTSD provides signs like this one to veterans who can suffer stress triggered by fireworks(Courtesy Military with PTSD)

Since the American Revolution, it’s been military veterans who have fought to win and preserve the independence the United States celebrates on July 4.

And few traditions are more closely associated with Independence Day than fireworks, whether the big public displays by Macy’s and countless municipalities, or with the Roman candles, firecrackers and cherry bombs set off in backyards and trash cans as less formal, unscheduled demonstrations of patriotism.

But for military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, those celebrations of American independence, particularly the kinds that rattle a neighborhood unexpectedly, can be traumatizing in themselves.

Ironically, perhaps, PTSD experts say fireworks can trigger flashbacks or other unpleasant or traumatic experiences among those who have earned the right to celebrate the Fourth of July on Wednesday.

“I know veterans who spend that whole day or weekend working in their basement,” said Eric Golnick, a U.S. Navy veteran and CEO of VFR Healthcare, a Paramus-based company that provides services for the New Jersey and U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs. Referring to the explosive flash of fireworks, Golnick added, “it can bring up some very bad memories.”

Many pet owners are all too familiar with the disquieting affect of fireworks on their dogs, cats and other animals. The Atlantic County SPCA drew local attention in a Facebook post to a movement by veterans, their loved ones and other advocates to minimize the potential for July 4th holiday trauma.

A photograph posted on the page shows a man standing in front of a sign reading “Combat veteran lives here. Please be courteous with Fireworks.”

Such signs have been produced since 2015 by an Indiana-based group called Military with PTSD, founded in 2010 by a former U.S. Navy lieutenant, Justin Gourley, and his wife Shawn. Justin was diagnosed with the disorder following his service on the U.S.S. George Washington, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier — commissioned on July 4, 1992 — that was deployed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gourley recalled an early manifestation of PTSD while home for a barbecue just days before July 4th in 2004 or 2005, when a neighbor set off …read more

Source:: New Jersey Real-Time News


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