Fireworks could cause issues for veterans with PTSD

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TOPEKA, Kan. — The fireworks we all look forward to on the Fourth of July may be deeply disturbing to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Army veteran Matthew Burany told KSNT the sounds of exploding fireworks take him back to the deserts of Iraq.

“Any loud noise, any flashes, would easily make me jump and somewhat crouch down,” Burany told KSNT.

More than half of all men and women will experience a trauma in their lives that can result in PTSD, Karen Smothers of Pawnee Mental Health Services explained to KSNT.

“All of your senses work to help retain memory,” Smothers told KSNT. “When those get activated, sometimes because of trauma, it can bring back a very scary memory.”

She said as many as one in five veterans have problems with PTSD.

For one retired veteran named Richard it’s the fireworks leading up to the Fourth of July that cause problems for him.

He said unexpected fireworks can be a trigger for veterans.

“I hit the ground, I don’t know what’s going on,” he said.

For most veterans, it’s not about stopping fireworks.

Instead, it’s about being aware of where you set them off and who they might impact.

Smothers suggested letting neighbors know if you plan to set off fireworks.

She said that gives the veteran time to go somewhere else if fireworks are a trigger.