(WJHL) – As one the country’s largest celebrations approaches, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working to get the word out on stresses and fears that can affect America’s armed service members — firework-induced PTSD.
In an article published by the VA, public affairs specialist Matthew Moeller describes the challenges faced by service members long after their time in the field.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can take a variety of forms, but the VA described the challenge facing many vets as one of association — similar conditions, experiences and feelings can bring back painful and terrifying memories.
In the case of July 4th, which is commonly marked by explosions, flashing lights and smoke, the VA said several triggers can cause some veterans to experience PTSD triggers.
“Combat Veterans and those who worked in combat zones can pair threat with whatever was in that environment,” the article said. “Including things they saw, heard or smelled.”
To help ease the fear felt by some veterans, the VA recommended several methods:
- Confront Triggers Gradually: Rather than avoiding triggers, VA writers suggested allowing exposure in a controlled environment may make coping easier over time.
- Repeat Reminders: Simple affirmations like “I’m at home.” or “These are fireworks.” can help reset mental processes surrounding trauma, according to the VA.
- Cool Off: Lowering body temperatures can remind those experiencing a PTSD episode that they are somewhere else, and the VA recommended cold water or ice.
- Make a Plan: Creating a schedule or itinerary for the day may help keep veterans on track and boost moods, the VA said.
- Get Help: Seek mental health experts that can give the right coping tools, such as the VA’s mental health network or the PTSD Coach app.
For those that may want to experience July 4th fireworks without being at the event in-person, News Channel 11 will livestream Johnson City’s show July 3rd.