21 Jun VETERANS VOICE: Fireworks no fun for vets with PTSD
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This morning, June 16, at 5:30 a.m., I heard a loud barrage of fireworks — rapid-fire bursts, as well as loud booms. Sadly, it’s only the beginning of the annual onslaught that traumatizes or disturbs not only veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but also pets and citizens in general, including police officers, firefighters and first responders.
When I moved to Montgomery County 25 years ago after my husband and I separated from the Air Force, I was shocked to learn it was legal for anyone to set off fireworks anywhere inside city limits, no matter the density of housing or businesses.
It’s even more troubling today in a city with a large population of combat veterans, many of whom suffer from PTSD. While Independence Day celebrations affect veterans with PTSD across America, it’s far worse in cities like Clarksville, because most communities, as a matter of common-sense and public safety, do not allow citizens to light up their yards with high-powered fireworks in city limits. In fact, some states do not allow fireworks outside of professional displays in safe areas.
The barrage of fireworks explosions can send veterans with PTSD back to the war zone, a trigger that sets off a wave of symptoms and emotions, none of them good. PTSD symptoms can include traumatic flashbacks, nightmares, panic/anxiety attacks and bursts of anger, among others. Some veterans with PTSD suffer only a few of these symptoms, some suffer from all.
I don’t understand why our elected officials, who always talk about supporting veterans and how public safety is a No. 1 priority, don’t put a stop to the practice of backyard pyrotechnics in city limits, or at least allow residents to use them only in designated areas in large fields away from houses and businesses.
Fireworks post a detriment not only to veterans with PTSD, but also to the safety of the entire community. Police, firefighters. EMT personnel and animal control officers are tasked with the added burden of responding to scores of calls. Private property is damaged or destroyed.
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