Having a Thoughtful Fourth of July
Keeping In Mind Our Military Veterans
June 30, 2016 by Mark Dye
The Fourth of July is a time of celebration, with parades, barbecues and, of course, fireworks. For those who have served in a war zone, however, that last bit can be the cause of an incredible amount of stress and anxiety, particularly those diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In an article in USA Today last year, Marine Corps veteran Sam Deeds said that fireworks make him feel “like I'm getting blown up all over again.”
There are some things those who have served—and their friends and neighbors—can do to help limit the stress.
Let your neighbors know
Some of your neighbors might not be aware of another neighbor’s service history, so a yard sign is a good way to let them know. You can get them for free at MilitaryWithPTSD.com, or even have your own made at place like Fast Signs, which has locations across the country. (Costs can be anywhere from $20 to $50, with the more expensive ones tending to last longer).
Have a quiet space
Some military families set up an area in their home to limit noise. Add in a tablet or laptop with headphones and Internet access, and noise can be reduced even more. Do note, however, that the physical concussions from more powerful fireworks can sometimes still be felt and cause anxiety. Still, reducing sound as much as possible during peak fireworks time (usually after dark) can be quite helpful.
If your neighborhood is like mine and tends to go a bit overboard with its fireworks, staying at home might not be an option. What our neighborhood has done is take up a collection each year and give the veteran family around the corner a night away. One year it was a simple dinner and movie night that ended fairly late (e.g., after prime fireworks shooting time), and another year it was a trip to a nearby resort for a full weekend. This is a great way to show respect for their service, provide them with an alternative, all while giving them some fond memories.
Also note that many states will have some (if not most) of their parks designated as fireworks-free zones, so a day or even camping trip to one can also be a good option.
No matter if it’s a sign, a night out, or just skipping the fireworks all together, please be mindful and respectful of your veteran neighbors this Fourth of July.