CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Fireworks are a staple of Fourth of July celebrations, but they can have unintended consequences for combat veterans with post traumatic stress disorder.
WCNC Charlotte spoke with veterans who said the the sound of fireworks is expected on the Fourth of July - - but civilians who shoot them off at random times and days before and after the holiday can be a source of real anxiety.
“It's a physical reaction second, with the mental thought first,” said Master Sargent Michael McKenzie Sr., a retired Army Ranger.
“Your brain says I've been here before,” he explained. “The body says I've been there and says I have to do something now to protect myself.”
You may see signs in veterans' yards asking for courtesy when shooting fireworks.
Their intention is not to dampen the celebration, but to raise awareness: random, unexpected fireworks may be triggering.
The week of the holiday, some veterans opt for time away at designated firework free campsites. Others choose to stay indoors.
And while they say it is an honor to see a nation loudly and proudly celebrate freedom, a little courtesy can go a long way.
If you are a combat Veteran struggling with PTSD, please reach out by calling 1-877-717-PTSD (7873). Another combat veteran will answer the call.
If you would like to help in the fight against PTSD and Suicide Prevention, please text: PTSDUSA to 1-800-905-8169.
You can learn more about the PTSD Foundation of America North Carolina chapter here.
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