Veterans Ask Neighbors To Respect PTSD On July 4th


The Fourth of July is naturally associated with the use of fireworks around the United States to celebrate the country's independence from Great Britain.

But for some combat veterans dealing with PTSD, the barrage of fireworks that take place not just on July 4 -- but also on the days leading up to and often following it -- generate mixed feelings, according to The Washington Post.

As a result, the nonprofit group Military with PTSD has begun to pass out and sell yard-signs which read: "Combat veteran lives here, please be courteous with fireworks."

"The purpose of these signs is not to stop fireworks, no veteran wants that," co-founder Shawn Gourley said of the signs. "It’s the days leading up to and the days leading away from July 4th, when it’s unexpected, that’s what the problem is."

Combat veteran and Washington Post writer Thomas Gibbons-Neff asked on Twitter for input from combat veterans about the signs. Most responses did not view the sign very positively.

"I don't like the insinuation that every combat vet can't handle fireworks. As a vet, I love fireworks."

Another reads: "Negative. It's counter to everything we stood, fought for to hamper patriotic celebration or impose views upon anyone taking part."

Gibbons-Neff himself posted: "I think that having a conversation with your neighbor is better than putting up a sign. Bridging gaps instead of alluding to them."

PTSD has become more common after decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the fireworks can reportedly trigger painful memories of time served, according to Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen.

"The sensitivity here is that if you know that your next-door neighbor served ...," Van Dahlen told USA Today, "and you're planning to have a fireworks display in your backyard, it's probably the thoughtful thing to do to let them know."

Sources: Little Things, The Washington Post, USA Today / Photo credit: caruba/Flickr

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