When I realized that Independence Day was only a few weeks away I decided to re-share the blog I wrote last year pertaining to Veterans and fireworks. In that particular post I wrote in detail about how Combat Veterans struggle with this holiday and shared tips for the holiday. As I shared this post to Facebook, two things triggered in my memory. First was the hit 2010 song “Firework” by Katy Perry. While I on occasion do feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, Katy’s soulful lyrics pale in comparison to the other thing this blog triggered in my memory; an organization that is providing yard signs to Veterans on Independence Day this year.
We are 15 months away from our next presidential election and yard signs are already starting to pop up everywhere. However, amongst those signs this year you might also see yard signs explaining that a Combat Veteran lives in the house, and a reminder to be courteous with fireworks.
When you work with Veterans as much as I do, you know that unexpected loud noises can often trigger reactions. Some reactions may be internal, others may be more obvious, but overall, it is an issue for a lot of Vets. This is most prevalent during holidays with fireworks. While New Year’s Eve and Memorial Day will often contain firework celebrations, Independence Day is easily the biggest outdoor celebration involving fireworks.
The issue for most Vets is not with the large public displays. It is easier for them to prepare for those because most communities announce when they are occurring and where they will be ignited. The issues come from the use of personal fireworks that are set off without warning. Its one thing to go to a park and expect to see a big firework display, but it’s completely different to be resting in your home at night and suddenly hear an unexpected explosion. This is especially the case when it involves small fire crackers that sound like gun shots. Also, at personal gatherings, there is not a set day or time for celebrations. This year the 4th of July is on a Saturday. It’s safe to say that a lot of people will celebrate Saturday. But some people might celebrate on Sunday, or Monday if they have the day off from work. Further, if you live in rural West Virginia like I do, these celebrations can last for hours. Imagine how difficult that can be if every explosion reminds you of gunfire from combat, or bombs going off in the distance.
Recently I noticed that a buddy of mine posted a picture of himself with one of the yard signs provided by the organization, “Military with PTSD.” I wrote about this group in the past and the great work they are doing in general, but especially when it comes to the Independence Day holiday. I asked John if he would answer a few questions about the yard sign and some tips for Veterans and civilians on this holiday.
John Smith is a combat Veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. We’ve bonded a lot over the past few years and he is always open to providing insight for my blogs. He’s also a great fan and supporter of the blog. I asked him how he heard about the signs and he stated that it was from a Facebook post that someone shared recently. I was then curious as to why he requested one and he gave me an interesting response: “I am all about the education of PTSD. The more people know about PTSD the more accepting it will become, at least that is my hope.” Since John is so well versed in PTSD education and is always researching the healing process, I asked him to provide some tips for Veterans with PTSD for July 4th. “Try to enjoy the day. Spend time with those you love. Educate those who do not know why fireworks bother us and just enjoy the day.”
Lastly, I asked John what advice he would give for civilians this holiday season or for people who might be curious about the sign. His advice here is actually quite helpful: “I expect things to go “boom” on the 4th of July. I build myself up to it. No, it is not easy but it is something I do every year. Having young children I usually take them to see the(public) fireworks. The build up is rough but coming down from said build up is even harder. I would just like neighbors to either wait till the 4th of July to set off fireworks or let me know that they are going to set off a few. That way I am expecting something and I’m not having a heart attack as I hear things (explode) close to me as I’m relaxing in my bed.”
Overall this organization is doing great things to help Vets with PTSD. If you would like to know more about what they do, feel free to check out their website. If you would like to know more about service connecting for PTSD feel free to give me a call today for a free consultation. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. Or you can fill out this form so that we may contact you at a better time.
Have a great Independence Day, and take some advice from Ms. Perry: “Just own the night like the 4th of July.”