LANSING, MI (WLNS) – In many communities fireworks are the biggest part of Fourth of July celebrations, but for veterans suffering from PTSD those big booms can sound a lot like the rockets and bombs they dealt with in combat.
It’s an American tradition, fireworks painting the sky for the Fourth of July, but for veterans suffering from PTSD –
“You hear that boom, it can trigger you right back to something, a place you don’t wanna go,” said Eric Calley, Iraq War veteran.
The 4th can be one of the most traumatizing days of the year.
“You start hearing fireworks or gunshots or something and people start having flashbacks,” said Brian Coats, VFW, Michigan.
Eric Calley fought in Iraq, but the memories have followed him home.
“These are just make-shift cannons in the middle of the desert.”
He has a therapy dog to help him with his PTSD day to day, but says more than 11,000 veterans in Michigan are also at risk this 4th for triggers, mentally bringing them back to a warzone.
“It’s almost like tunnel vision, you know, nothing on the outside of you even matters.”
PTSD does impact veterans young and old, even those that are still in nursing homes so for the Fourth of July veterans say there is something you can do to help.
“Say hey I’m going to be lighting off some fireworks I just wanted to let you know. You know common courtesy can go a long way when you’re talking about July 4 and our veterans.”
Calley says the 4th won’t be easy, but he still wants to celebrate so his children know freedom doesn’t come free.
There is a website that gives free signs that they can place in their yard to say they’re uncomfortable with fireworks for the holiday. Visit the website: Veteran Firework Sign