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Unexpected fireworks after the Fourth of July can cause PTSD problems

A fan watches a Fourth of July fireworks display after a baseball game
Posted at 7:01 PM, Jul 05, 2024

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Fourth of July might be America’s most patriotic holiday for friends and family to come together. Dr. Jim Thurman, State Commander for the Kentucky National Association of Black Veterans, enjoys the holidays like most everyone else.

“I come from a military family,” Thurman said. “I have nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters that served in the military, and we like to get together, sort of a family reunion like, to celebrate the fourth.

While some of the other patriotic holidays serve as times to honor and remember, how does Thurman view Independence Day?

“I see it just as a regular holiday. It’s not like Memorial Day or Veterans Day where veterans actually are celebrated themselves, but we do recognize the significance of our founding fathers and those that fought for the independence of this country from Great Britian.”

While the Fourth of July has plenty of fun elements for celebrations, one aspect of the holiday poses a problem for some people.

“July Fourth has also become the fireworks holiday,” I said.

“Don’t remind me,” Dr. Thurman interjected with a smile.

“With the fireworks going off, is that difficult for veterans to navigate?”

“It’s the neighborhood all around you and your house shaking and stuff like that,” Dr. Thurman answered. “Sometimes, it can trigger flashbacks and cause some apprehension.”

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 23% of veterans have experienced PTSD at some point during their lives. For some veterans, fireworks can trigger a PTSD reaction.

“When you are laying in your bed at home at night and maybe have dozed off,” Dr. Thurman said, “and all of a sudden, boom, bam, all around you, that can cause some apprehension to those that have actually been in combat, where those explosive devices weren’t celebratory. That meant life or death.”

Sure, fireworks are expected on the Fourth of July, but the following days are a little different.

“I know in my neighborhood, they go all night long 'til midnight and sometimes after, and it goes on past the Fourth of July, and quite frankly, it's very annoying,” Dr. Thurman said. “When you are (on July) the fifth or the sixth and you've got leftover fireworks, be considerate of your neighbors.”