Fireworks trigger PTSD symptoms among Veterans

Published: Jul. 4, 2014 at 12:08 PM EDT
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Photo via Jon Dykes' Facebook
Photo via Jon Dykes' Facebook

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - If you are like most Americans, fireworks are a natural way to celebrate the Fourth of July but for some it is the worst part of Independence Day.

Jon Dykes, a combat veteran from Georgia, brought national attention to the problem when he posted a sign in his yard that read "Combat Veteran Lives Here. Please Be Courteous With Fireworks". With fireworks popping off last Fourth of July in his neighborhood, Dykes suffered PTSD symptoms for hours.  The picture went viral on Facebook and got FOX19 thinking about how our local veterans could be suffering from the same issue.

It's a symbol of our patriotism but ironically can be miserable for our patriots. Marine Corp veteran Jonathan Stone suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Though he's trying to live a civilian life with his son, it's the Fourth of July that takes him to a much different place.

"I think if you ask a lot of veterans and they were kind of honest they would say it bothers them or they have to gut it out or have to struggle through 'Well I use to like fireworks or they use to mean fun before I saw people getting blown up," said Stone.

"They hear a sound that they associate with a traumatic event in their life. It triggers the even over for them," says Buck Clay who runs a non-profit organization for veterans like himself.

In his experience, Clay says PTSD is common in men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"You got that person. You run them through the gambit. You bring them home. Not everyone can handle that well," said Clay.

As for Jonathan, he says he isn't asking anyone to stop enjoying the holiday. He is only hoping to make others aware that for some veterans fireworks mean something much different.

"We don't like to complain and we fight for people's freedom to do that," says Stone.

Both veterans suggest just asking your neighbors before you shoot fireworks. If you know a neighbor who is a veteran, simply ask them if fireworks bother them. Clay says for many veterans suffering from PTSD just fair warning can help prevent the symptoms.

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