Veterans, PTSD and fireworks amid July 4 weekend

It’s a good idea to check with the neighbors before planning a Fourth of July party.

As the holiday approaches, people across the country are likely preparing to celebrate in traditional ways. This includes grilling with friends and family and, of course, shooting off some fireworks.

For some, however, fireworks may not be a fun experience.

In a story published by Penn Medicine News, researchers determined that people dealing with PTSD can be triggered by fireworks. Since these explosives are usually set off at night, include bright flashes and loud bangs that come at inconsistent intervals, veterans may struggle with these types of celebrations.

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Dr. Tony Brooks spoke with Fox News about how to handle a Fourth of July celebration that also takes veterans dealing with PTSD into consideration. 

Brooks, a combat veteran himself and the author of "Leave No Man Behind," explained that not everyone dealing with PTSD will be triggered by the same stimuli.

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He suggested that the simplest thing to do before having a Fourth of July celebration is to talk to your neighbors.

"Too many times we just fail to have that simple human-to-human conversation that could make the difference," he explained.

He suggested not directly asking if fireworks bother anyone, but instead bringing it up casually in conversation. This provides anyone with any issues to voice their concerns without forcing them to admit something they may wish to keep private, Brooks added.

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Brooks stressed that any veterans who have issues with fireworks will say something if you mention fireworks around them, even if it’s just something as simple as "I’m not a fan of fireworks." He also said not everyone is the same and there are many veterans, including himself, who thoroughly enjoy Fourth of July fireworks.

Fox News also spoke with Dr. Leo Flanagan, a psychologist, trauma and resiliency expert, about how veterans can prepare themselves for the upcoming holiday.

Flanagan recommended keeping a comfortable distance from any firework celebrations. "Don’t take a front-row seat, especially in a crowd," he wrote. "Watch from a distance and place where you can move even further away if you become uncomfortable."

He also suggested using mindful breathing, especially in the days leading up to the holiday. According to Flanagan, 20 minutes of controlled breathing several times a day can help with PTSD.


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