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PTSD and fireworks, how you can help local veterans during 4th of July celebrations

WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) -- For combat veterans, the flashing lights, loud booms, and even the smell of the fireworks can take them back to a scary place.

Local Vietnam Veteran Tom Heiser says, "we served our country and there are many veterans that were in war zones that were in direct combat that were being shot at and rocketed."

Veterans across the country, finding themselves in the same spot every year.

"Maybe some people prepare for it make a plan with family and friends on what to be done when fireworks are going off," says Caitlin Baldauff, Outpatient Licensed Professional Counselor for North Central Health Care. "What people can experience can be different cognitive reactions such as flashbacks, memories, anxiousness, and even physiological reactions like increased heart rate."

Most years, Heiser says many veterans go to firework displays and have no issues. But, with many displays in our area being canceled more people are purchasing their own and doing their own displays. Meaning, those fireworks are going off at different times and even different days.

"The responses can be mild to severe depending on the person and depending on the trigger and the time," said Baldauff.

Those triggers, Heiser says could possibly set those veterans back from the treatment they're already receiving.

So how can you help? Well, Baldauff says, "just thinking about the time of day what type of fireworks do you know your neighbors and how well would really help."

Understanding it's a celebration, veterans are just asking people to be courteous.

Amanda Lojewski

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