Red, White, and Boom

Red, White, and Boom

Here in the United States of America, Independence Day is rapidly approaching. For those of you who don’t know, America made a Brexit of sorts on July 4th, 1776 when 56 wealthy white men finished drafting a break up letter to England.

Consequently, on the 4th of July, we celebrate America the beautiful! Land of the free firework shows, home of the brave pyrotechnicians who set them off. Following John Adam’s request, Independence day is celebrated with “Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.” 

Fireworks on the 4th of July are as American as apple pie, jazz, and baseball. Veterans, another cornerstone of American culture, might not be as fired up for fireworks, on the other hand. For some of our beloved combat vets, fireworks can trigger Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, between 11 and 20 percent of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom service people experience PTSD throughout the year. The Gulf War and Vietnam War veterans fall within that range as well. 

What is PTSD?

PTSD occurs after someone has been through a dramatic event where they feel afraid and as if they have no control over a potentially fatal situation. While it is normal to have stress-induced responses to traumatic events, reactions that persist after significant time could be a sign of PTSD. The four symptoms that come along with the disorder are flashbacks, avoidance of thoughts or situations, negative feelings, and anxiety. People with PTSD could also experience feelings of hopelessness, depression, substance abuse problems, and trouble with employment and relationships. With different types of psychotherapy and/or medication, people with PTSD can cope better throughout their daily lives.

What does PTSD have to do with fireworks?

While you may enjoy setting off fireworks, some of our veterans are probably thinking, “Pop, pop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it’s not.” The loud noises associated with fireworks sound like gunfire or explosives and can trigger PTSD. In some cases, those who fought for our ability to celebrate Independence Day have to escape to isolated areas. 

Despite that, there is still a way that you can help. First, don’t set off random fireworks in the middle of the night because veterans and civilians alike do not enjoy being woken up to them. Second, keep your eyes peeled for signs that a veteran might live in your community. The signs look a little something like this 

Be warned, however. A veteran might not have a sign out in front of their house. Lastly, if you are planning to set off fireworks, some vets greatly appreciate a warning before you get going with your celebration. (You could also bring them a plate of food while you are at it.) Don’t feel as if you have to limit your stars and stripes fervor, just be cautious that your rockets red glare don’t disrupt the home of a brave man or woman. 

Happy Independence Day from Scimplifide! 

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