While many people are thinking about setting off fireworks for the holiday weekend, some veterans said they are asking neighbors to keep in mind that explosions can trigger disturbing flashbacks for some soldiers.
“I think the public is very sensitive to the needs of our vets, and want to support them, and this is a small way to show that,” said Pat Rehmer of Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living.
“The key to everything is you know communicating with your neighbors and being neighborly...as Americans should do,” said Veteran Micah Welintukonis.
Yard signs have been posted in front of homes nationwide that say “A combat veteran lives here. Please be courteous with fireworks.”
Welintukonis is a veteran who served the United States for 20 years, and now is a leader in several local veterans’ organizations.
The Purple Heart recipient said while fireworks don’t bother him, there are numerous veterans who are shaken by the explosions.
“Being in combat, having been around explosions and stuff like that, the brain will automatically trigger that event, and people might relive that event,” Welintukonis said.
He said the signs are a great tool but some veterans won’t advertise this on their front lawn.
“I think veterans, especially suffering from you know deployment issues, like post combat stress, you know, really need to talk to their neighbors,” Welintukonis said.
Reaching out is a good first step.
Rehmer said post traumatic stress disorder is more common than people might think.
“There's changes in your brain related to trauma...you can see actual changes, especially prolonged trauma...and so if you hear a noise that triggers you, your brain is going to react as if you're in the situation you were in potentially,” Rehmer said.
Many people with PTSD choose not to discuss a diagnosis, so simply asking if fireworks would bother them is a quick and friendly way to ensure everyone around you is comfortable and aware.
“Enjoy the holiday weekend and remember we still have troops serving overseas,” Welintukonis said.
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