SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — While fireworks are usually an exciting part of any Fourth of July celebration, the founder of a veterans organization is reminding people that they can leave some people on edge—especially those who have served the United States overseas.
"The sounds of fireworks -- they can sound very similar to small arms fire, mortar rounds, just a plethora of explosives,” said Jeremy Harrell, the founder, and CEO of Veteran’s Club, Inc.
In a conversation with LEX18 Sunday, Harrell recalled when he returned from serving in Iraq in 2004 and saw fireworks in Louisville.
“We were just were uncomfortable,” Harrell said of watching fireworks with friends who also returned from serving abroad. ”Every time it popped, we'd shake. And that occurred for some years until I talked about this with professionals.”
Harrell said that over time, he was able to embrace fireworks celebrations by confronting his anxieties.
“That's really the most anxiety-driven part of fireworks is not really knowing what it is--the uncertainty--but if I'm watching a firework go off then I obviously know someone's not trying to shoot at me or blow me up or take my life,” Harrell explained. “So that helped a lot.”
Harrell said that his advice for family members and friends of veterans experiencing anxiety surrounding fireworks is to quietly calm them and offer support.
"Just say, 'Hey, you're in Kentucky,’” Harrell said. “It’s just fireworks. You're not in Baghdad, you're not in Afghanistan, you're here at home, and I'm Jeremy.’ And just keep reminding them who you are.”