Fireworks can trigger PTSD in some veterans
Beautiful colors and loud booms lighting up the sky are usually a symbol of the freedoms we have today thanks to those who fought for our freedom.
For some of those veterans, the fireworks can be a harsh reminder of combat. One veteran News 25 spoke with has a powerful message about being cautious around vets this holiday.
It’s a time to celebrate freedom with family and fun and fireworks, but for some veterans who fought for that freedom the fireworks spark something much deeper. U.S. Army Veteran Christopher Granger said, “It brings me back to a place that just emotionally is not good, mentally is not good.”
Granger served in Iraq for 15 months about ten years ago and struggled to return to civilian life. “I’m always looking over my shoulder. I’m always thinking something’s behind me, something’s coming up, someone’s sneaking up on me. I’m very alert, constantly.”
Granger suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He says the booming sounds of loud displays heard on the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve trigger memories of war. “The first thought that crosses my mind honestly is hide for cover and lock and load. I mean, as bad as that sounds, that’s my mentality.”
Not only do the loud booms sound similar to gunfire, but the high pitched sounds can also trigger severe migraines. “Any high pitched noise makes me have a migraine almost instantly. I was diagnosed with PTSD. I was also diagnosed with TBI so it makes my headaches that much more intense,” said Granger.
Those who work closely with vets suffering from PTSD, like Kevin Cuttill of Crusaders for Veterans, say if you’re shooting fireworks around your house know your neighbors. If you have veterans living nearby, consider moving to a different location. “Any veteran, any war vet, you’ve got to worry about nearby and stuff, go to the beach, go somewhere, get away from them you know, enjoy your holiday, but respect theirs,” said Cuttill.
“Sometimes it helps when we’re aware of it, but if you’re not aware of it, it makes it worse. It’s not good either way, but it makes it worse if you’re not aware of it. So, just talk to them, communicate. Be cautious of those around you,” said Granger.