PTSD and fireworks for vets on the Coast

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The Fourth of July is a day to celebrate the independence of our nation, a group of people that have fought for this country may associate stress more than fun with the holiday.

Some veterans experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder triggered by traditional July 4th celebrations like fireworks.

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It is encouraged for those who plan on using fireworks for the holiday weekend to reach out to veterans in the community to warn them of the possible loud noise.

Dr. Joni Utley, a psychologist at the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System in Biloxi, says due to social distancing rules and fewer large celebrations, it is especially important to keep veterans in mind. “No, I definitely don’t think that people should steer away from celebrating all together. I think the main thing, you know, that I would be concerned about, especially this Fourth of July during these times is just that I would imagine a lot more people may be celebrating on their own versus going to large fireworks displays because so many of them are canceled. And so, I would think, to the extent that people maybe have this in mind and just be considerable and respectful, you know, and not do fireworks for days on end for example or all times of the night because what happens that can be distressing for veterans is when, you know, is when you have those really unexpected triggers. And so, if people can kind of contain it to the Fourth of July, and sunset, those sort of things, I think veterans are going to be expecting it at that time, and so they’ll be, you know, prepared for it and able to manage it.”

Along with taking deep, slow breaths and meditation, Utley also suggests using apps to help veterans with coping skills including PTSD Coach, Virtual Hope Box, and VA Mindfulness.

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Grace Boyles was born and raised in Traverse City, Michigan, the “Cherry Capitol of the World”. She graduated with honors from the University of Michigan with dual majors, earning degrees in Communications and Creative Writing. During her time at Michigan, Grace broadcasted countless sporting events for the Big Ten Network, from baseball to men’s and women’s basketball to wrestling. Grace’s favorite sport to cover, however, was Michigan football from the sidelines at the Big House— even when it was 25 degrees and snowing! Grace is excited and eager to explore the Gulf Coast, meet new people, and learn more about this incredible community while telling the area’s news and sports stories.