AUGUSTA – The Fourth of July is known for parades, barbecues and of course, fireworks. The sights and sounds that go along with the holiday can often be similar to those heard in combat.
Officials at the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services are warning people to be considerate of veterans who might have PTSD.
Darren Henry, the bureau’s deputy of directors, said that sometimes veterans can be more sensitive toward the sound of fireworks.
“Some people can’t tell the difference,” Henry said. “If it is a large boom or a big flash or something that sounds like it might be a rocket, it might give them, or it could give them, potential of a flashback, a wartime scenario or another event that they had during their service.”
Henry said PTSD can happen after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event such as a major accident or intense combat.
In Maine, he said, there is a veteran population of about 127,000. Of those, more than 17,000 veterans do experience PTSD.
Henry suggested that those who have neighbors who are veterans let them know about any plans to set off fireworks and to be understanding of how the veterans react.
“Giving them different options and making them aware of what’s going on is probably the biggest way to help prevent and PTSD or any type of flashback that may occur,” Henry said.
Henry also encouraged veterans, family members, friends and everyone else to reach out to the bureau for help or to find available resources.
As for the holiday, Henry has one final suggestion.
“Go out and enjoy your family and friends and thank you for your service and Happy Fourth of July,” he said.