Fourth of July fireworks a concern for veterans with PTSD


SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA)  –  Fireworks are considered an essential for the July 4th holiday, whether it’s going to watch a show or setting off your own.

For veterans suffering from PTSD, fireworks can trigger a flashback to a painful memory. This makes it hard for some to celebrate the holiday.

Tuesday night people around the country will grab their blankets and head to watch a fireworks show. Vietnam veteran Bobby Thomas says he won’t be joining the crowds.

“If I know that they’re going off, that’s fine. I don’t like it, I just get this quiver in my stomach,” Thomas says.

Thomas says he suffers from a mild form of PTSD. Even after being retired from the military for 43 years, some things can still get to him.

“There’s certain sounds that they sound like mortars coming in or something, and it kind of makes your skin crawl, but you know what it is down there,” he says.

Many veterans don’t mind the noise. Retired Army Major John Drake says he will set off his own fireworks.

Drake says it’s important for people to be respectful of veterans who are more sensitive to the booms.

“Veterans as whole want the average citizen to enjoy the Fourth of July, to enjoy Independence Day, and truly celebrate the birth of our nation and the freedoms that we’ve gone out and fought for and tried to maintain,” Drake says.

If somebody lives near a veteran, or they think they live near a veteran, Drake says to talk to them ahead of time. That way you can find out if they have any reservations or any issues with fireworks.

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