Firework Season can Trigger PTSD for Military Vets - FOX 5 KRBK is Springfield MO source for News and Weather

Firework Season can Trigger PTSD for Military Vets

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(Springfield, Mo.) A time that millions celebrate is a time when countless others fear and dread, a group that we should be celebrating. 

The majority of people who hear fireworks are reminded of summer nights and barbeques. For a soldier like Robert Herren,Veteran, with post traumatic stress disorder, there’s a dark side.

"It puts me back like I’m back overseas again, I’m reliving some of the nightmares that I went through there as far as watching people get killed and we’re killing other people. It’s like you relive the event over and over again," explains Herren. 

Herren served for over three years in combat. He says the pops and cracks of fireworks we often use to celebrate our freedoms take many who fought for those freedoms right back to the front lines.

"It sounds like mortar fire coming in and I’m seeing the rockets coming at us and machine gun fire and it puts me in a situation that I know that I’m not in, but I’ve got to remind myself I’m not there no more and I live on that on a daily basis."

They're not asking you to stop shooting fireworks. They just want to be mindful of where and when you shoot them off.

Stephanie Appleby, Director of Marketing and Development, National Alliance on Mental Illness, tells Fox5, "these folks did a lot for us and there the reason why were here and we need to protect our veterans and make sure that we’re doing everything to ensure that there safe."

PTSD experts like Appleby say the combination of lights and sound can trigger flashbacks.

"I think it’s a holiday that brings them some anxiety and maybe not so much that they’re dreading but how am I going to react? Is this going to bring something back, a painful memory?"

For that reason, Herren is asking those who do plan on celebrating to be courteous to the veterans around.

"If you know there’s a veteran nearby please be respectful to them and try to do it from a further distance away from them so they don’t go through the severe flashbacks to where they’re thinking there in a war zone," says Herren. 

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