Many war vets take shelter from Fourth of July fireworks
By Jason Barry
Phoenix, AZ (KPHO) -- For most Americans, the Fourth of July is about fun and fireworks.
But for many U.S. military veterans dealing with post traumatic stress disorder it's hard to celebrate.
The loud blasts and flashing lights can bring about panic attacks and feelings of anxiety, according to PTSD experts.
U.S. Army veteran Peter Trompeter and U.S. Navy veteran Brian Moore both suffer from PTSD.
"Sometimes my heart will race and I'll get cold sweats," Trompeter said.
"I'll get nightmares or night terrors," Moore said. "My wife will tell me that I was screaming in the middle of the night, and it seemed like I was wrestling with somebody in my sleep."
Things will get even tougher for Valley veterans this weekend, with Fourth of July fireworks celebrations across the Valley.
Dr. Karen Kattar heads up the PTSD Clinic at the Phoenix VA hospital.
She said the loud noise and explosions from Fourth of July fireworks can remind combat veterans of incoming mortars and explosions that they experienced in battle.
"Because the symptoms of PTSD encompass being startled, and also being hyper vigilant, those unexpected things that remind them of traumatic events can be very distressing," said Kattar.
All across social media, an effort is underway to make communities more aware of the impact fireworks have on U.S. veterans.
One veteran put up a sign in his front yard that said, "Combat Veteran lives here - please be courteous with fireworks."
Experts said the large city displays of fireworks and music aren't as big a deal as the smaller blasts in local neighborhoods.
It's the small M80's and bottle rockets, randomly blasting from the house next door, that often make vets feel uneasy.
"I can tell you that this Fourth of July I'll be inside my home with the blinds down so I don't have to see flashes," Moore said. "I will also have a pair of headphones on."