SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Fireworks are a big part of most July 4th celebrations, but for combat veterans, they can be a source of stress especially for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The devices can trigger memories of combat.
“The last time I came out of Vietnam was 44 years ago,” said Sr. Chief Bob Jones, U.S. Navy Retired. “I still shake and try to dig a hole in the ground when I hear a loud noise.”
Jones now spends his days helping out members of his community with gardening and household chores. It’s a world away from his days during the Vietnam War, but his experience can still rob him of his peace of mind.
“For those who have served in combat anything can set them off,” said Jones. “A sight, a smell, a sound. Just looking at something can bring back those memories.”
To help cope during fireworks celebrations, veterans can make signs alerting their neighbors that a combat veteran lives there.
Experts also recommend, veterans can mentally prepare themselves and that being open if you feel you’ll be affected is a way to help alert those around you.
Especially, with not only the Fourth of July celebrations but Pioneer Day celebrations coming up from July 22nd to July 25th.
Jones has this advice for others before setting off fireworks.
“The best thing they can do is know who in their neighborhood has served in the military.”
As for other veterans, Jones recommends finding another veteran to talk to as well as consider joining a local veterans service organization.