Independence Day, Fireworks, and Post-Traumatic Stress

Fireworks: they’re synonymous with our nation’s Fourth of July celebrations. With national celebrations ranging in size from Macy’s massive display in New York City, to your next door neighbor’s amateur backyard show. Yet, as patriotic as fireworks may seem on this celebration of America’s independence, some of our bravest patriots would actually prefer that you find a different way to celebrate the birth of our nation. This is because fireworks and firecrackers can be a serious trigger for the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress, which our military heroes sustain frequently in today’s military conflicts. It’s up to us to remember this and keep them in mind when planning our Fourth of July celebrations.

Post-Traumatic Stress is a natural reaction to an unnatural set of circumstances. Because everyone’s threshold for trauma varies, no two people experience and react to trauma exactly the same. As a result, an event can cause PTS in one person, and not in another. However, there are trends, such as in cases of our military service members.

The events of war, including noises from explosive devices, can contribute to causing Post-Traumatic Stress. Those sounds, can sometimes be eerily similar to the sounds of fireworks. One of the trademark symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress is the occurrence of flashbacks to the traumatic event. Flashbacks can be triggered by seeing, hearing, or smelling things that are reminiscent of the elements of the event. The blasts of fireworks and their flashes can be reminiscent of not only gunfire, but also the type of blasts that occur in war zones.

Other symptoms of PTS can include nightmares and insomnia, avoidance and isolation, as well as quickness to anger and an increase in feelings of irritation. In some cases, the result of service members suffering from PTS being triggered on the Fourth of July can cause serious harm. This year, let’s be respectful to our military heroes on this day that’s meant to be a celebration for all. Be particularly mindful that late-night fireworks not only wake up the neighborhood, but can also be extremely triggering of flashbacks in military service members suffering from PTS.

Independence Day is a time to get together, celebrate, and appreciate our independence as a nation. We wouldn’t have that without our military heroes. Remember them as you make your holiday plans. Want to do more for our military heroes suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress? Donate to help our mission. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is building Intrepid Spirit Centers on military bases around the country that are specially equipped to treat Post-Traumatic Stress and the Invisible Wounds of War. Seven centers have already been completed and the eighth is currently under construction. Two additional facilities, for a total of 10 centers, are planned. Our cause is publicly funded, your support makes these centers and their life-saving treatments possible. 

Posted on July 1 2019 in Blog

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