Fireworks Trigger Flashbacks

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Updated: Mon, 07 Jul 2014 10:01:48 CST

Independence Day is a time to celebrate our freedom, but we can't forget to respect those who fought and continue to fight for it. The Fourth of July can be an especially difficult holiday for Veterans.

For many, the cracks and booms of fireworks can trigger painful flashbacks.
 
"It gave me goose bumps and I just broke out in this cold sweat," said Veteran Zeke Zornes.
 
Zornes served in the Korean War for 15 months: "And I never knew from one day to the next if I was gonna be alive to come home or not because a lot of my buddies were killed."

For many Veterans, the sounds of fireworks can mimic the sounds of combat.

"I started getting jumpy and jittery again and all of that and I kept saying well it's just fireworks, it's just fireworks," Zornes said.

Ariel Deer is an Outpatient Therapist at the Midland Center for Behavioral Healthcare. She says the sounds can cause stress and flashbacks. Severe reactions that occur could be signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
 
"PTSD is pretty common among the veteran population because of the surge of deployments and war activity that has happened over the last decade," Deer said.
 
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 11-20% of Veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars suffer from PTSD, with anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of Veterans from past wars.

But, Deer says the numbers could be much higher: "There's a lot of social stigma in regards to is it ok and were soldiers were supposed to be tough that the numbers that they do may not be as accurate as they should be."

Deer says the public should show some courtesy to our Veterans during this holiday. Deer suggests that residents set off their fireworks in open areas, away from residential zones.