Shooting New Year’s Eve fireworks can cause trauma for veterans with PTSD

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On New Years Eve some people ring in the new year, many people pop corks, but many people will prepare to shoot off fireworks to ring in 2020. But where many see a fun tradition, certain veterans see danger for themselves.

Those who experienced combat suffering from PTSD can get triggered into a panic attack if you fire off any without warning them.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can affect a lot more retired military personal then you realize. Now combine those symptoms with exploding fireworks, gunshots and other loud noises on the 31st when the clock hits midnight it can lead to danger.

For Mississippi native Ozie Townsend who served in the U.S Army his illness from PTSD has followed him everywhere.

“A soldier that has been in constant battle with it during the holidays fireworks and everything can cause that person also to go back and think when they was in the military,” Army Vet Townsend explained.

Medical experts at the VA in Jackson estimate nearly a third of combat veterans transitioning to civilian life eventually suffer from PTSD giving them flashbacks to the tragedies of war.

“One of the thoughts veterans have especially combat veterans with PTSD is that no one understands what they’re going through,” Dr. Charley Blunt stated. “That’s just going to reinforce that belief and make them not want to talk to people.”

These bad feelings and anxiety don’t mix well when shooting off endless fireworks bringing back memories of gun fire and deadly battles making veterans think they’re back in harms way and panic.

“Most veterans that I’ve worked with really struggle around these holidays,” Dr. Blunt continued. “If you know a veteran that lives near you try to be empathetic and go shoot off your fireworks somewhere else.”

Common side effects those with PTSD face when triggered are depression, anger, and constant nightmares. But these things can be avoided if you plan your firework celebration smart ahead of time.

“It would be best for them to inform their family members and their neighbors or anyone that they’re going to be around concerning their PTSD,” Townsend told us. “And what they’re suffering from. Because if you haven’t informed your family members about it quite naturally somebody is going to try to scare you.”

If you are a veteran or you know a veteran who may suffer from PTSD and have a mental breakdown, you are urged to call the veterans crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 to speak to real medical experts who will transfer you to your local VA for treatments.

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