Fireworks may serve as a trigger for combat veterans with PTSD

“Loud noises could serve as a trigger for people with PTSD, in particular, our combat veterans,” said Badonna Mitchell, the director of the Tallahassee Vet Cent
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 5:44 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The sound of fireworks brings thoughts of celebration for some, but memories of devastation for others.

“Loud noises could serve as a trigger for people with PTSD, in particular, our combat veterans,” said Badonna Mitchell, the director of the Tallahassee Vet Center. “Because they remind them of missiles or other blasts that they may have experienced while they were in combat.”

Mitchell says out of the approximately 200 veterans she serves, more than half are diagnosed with PTSD.

And for some, fireworks are a trigger.

“It sends them back to a place where they were in danger,” she said.

Mitchell works with combat veterans suffering from PTSD to develop coping mechanisms, like using deep breathing exercises.

“So that they can remember that they’re in their homes, in a safe place,” Mitchell said. “They’re not back in a war zone.”

On the other end of the spectrum, some say they enjoy the show.

Tallahassee veteran Jerry Key says the loud booms do remind him of war.

“A lot of the fireworks are similar to what you heard in Vietnam,” Key said.

But, Key says, he doesn’t mind it.

“It doesn’t bring me back bad memories,” he said.

For Key, the Fourth of July brings back memories of the camaraderie he experienced with his fellow soldiers in combat.

He says it reminds him of the honor it was to serve his country.

“For me, the sounds of fireworks going off are the sounds of freedom,” Key said.

Mitchell recommends if you live near a combat veteran, give them a heads up if you plan on setting off fireworks in the days leading up to Independence Day.

If you are a veteran who is struggling with PTSD or any other problems related to your military experience, you can always call the Vet Center’s 24/7 call center at 877-927-8387.

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