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As far back as the Tang Dynasty in the history of China, fireworks have been used both for military and celebratory purposes. It wasn’t until the 14th century that fireworks were introduced to Europe and would eventually make their way to America. Today, fireworks are seen as an American icon, as if the pyrotechnic displays of wonder and awe were part of the national identity. Every year on the fourth of July, they are. While the fourth of July holiday is anticipated with glee for many, it is anticipated with dread for many others. Firework explosions are not exclusive to the one day celebration when purchasing fireworks is widely available. From June to August, some neighborhoods can be riddled with frequent explosions, booms, pops, and whirrs. Living with PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, can mean living with a nervous response to loud noises, making the fourth of July holiday and other fireworks associated times of year more like an American nightmare than an American dream, particularly for those who risked their lives to protect the American dream.

Combat veterans especially struggle during the fourth of July. Fighting for America’s ongoing independence and freedom is part of what military personnel do. Constant exposure to war, bombs, guns, rockets, and other firearms is traumatizing and impacts soldiers’ sympathetic nervous systems. What most people fail to understand about reminders of war is that it is not just a reminder of war. Trauma lives in the sympathetic nervous system, actively thriving in the synapses of the brain and the body. When a soldier hears a firework go off they aren’t just reminded of the trauma of war. Their mind and their body are instantly transported to those terrifying moments, as if they are happening in real time. Fireworks put soldiers back on the field where chaos is imminent and their lives are secure only on a second by second basis. Being a soldier is living in survival. Survivalistic tendencies become more complex with PTSD and are aggravated by the sounds of fireworks.

Organizations like Military with PTSD work every year to promote PTSD-awareness during Fourth of July celebrations. Veterans, or others who have a trauma association with loud noises, can put signs up which indicate their residence or go door to door educating neighbors on PTSD and asking them to be courteous when it comes to using fireworks nearby. The freedom to use fireworks and celebrate is the same freedom veterans fought for and live with PTSD as a result. This year, plan to be aware of PTSD and pay respect to the men and women who have served to ensure that America is always something to celebrate.

If you or someone you love is struggling with PTSD or trauma, know that recovery is possible. The Guest House Ocala offers private residential treatment programs for trauma, addictions, and related mental health issues. Call us today for information on our custom programs of care: 1-855-483-7800