Many people enjoy sprawling out on a blanket and watching Fourth of July fireworks, but for combat veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, the experience can be harrowing.
Now, the Indiana-based group Military with PTSD is trying to make the holiday a little easier for veterans. The group is distributing free yard signs that read: “Combat Veteran Lives Here. Please Be Courteous with Fireworks.”
Sean Azzariti, a veteran who developed PTSD after returning form two tours in Iraq in 2006, explained to KDVR that he can’t wait for the holiday to be over and that the fireworks can be traumatic.
“It just encompasses you and makes it to where you’re like, ‘Oh, my god I’m back in that unsafe war zone where I could die,'” Azzariti said. “It takes a lot to come back from that sometimes.”
The nonprofit was flooded requests for signs, and with good reason. In its fundraising campaign for the signs, Military with PTSD explained that 7 to 20 percent of the more than 2.5 million veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan may have developed PTSD.
The group said it hoped to alleviate some of the hardship of living with PTSD by helping remind neighbors to be thoughtful.
“America celebrates our independence on the 4th of July. Not the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th of July. Some fireworks are expected, and that's OK. I understand; but not 24 hours a day,” veteran John Dykes said on the fundraising page. Dykes created the signs and so far the campaign has raised more than $5,000.
Image via Military With PTSD