Fireworks can trigger PTSD for veterans this weekend

Local News

Photo from AP.

TOPEKA (KSNT) – While fireworks are fun for many people in northeast Kansas, the sounds can trigger PTSD symptoms for local veterans.

Daniel Brazzell is the Executive Director of Team Fidelis Inc., a northeast Kansas non-profit organization that works to decrease veteran suicide. He said one-half of the issue is the fireworks that veterans anticipate on Sunday, the actual day of the holiday. But as most people experience, fireworks can go off in the days leading up to and after the holiday. That is when it can catch veterans off guard.

“If you’re laying in bed at two in the morning, and all of a sudden you hear what sounds like mortar rounds coming down, obviously it brings a flash of memories,” Brazzell said. “Your adrenaline pumps up, you jump up you’re ready to go, because if they were mortar rounds you need to make sure you’re getting to safety.”

That’s why it’s important to be courteous to your veteran neighbors. If you think people will be asleep, but your party is still going on, it’s probably a good idea to hold off on the fireworks.

The City of Topeka has an ordinance in place that bans the discharge of fireworks within 500 feet of the Veterans Affairs Hospital.

Holidays like Independence Day can be a time when veterans try to be alone, in an attempt to avoid large crowds like at parties or fireworks shows. Brazzell says isolation is a typical trait in veterans that are struggling with their mental health.

“So we can still enjoy the Fourth of July, like it’s meant to be enjoyed,” Brazzell said.

Brazzell is a veteran himself, serving as a combat engineer during the Gulf War.

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