Posted by Navy Capt. Richard F. Stoltz, DCoE director on June 27, 2013
Army Spc. Audie Allen-Alexander and Sgt. Julius Nkemayim celebrate Nkemayim's U.S. citizenship after he was sworn in. The Cameroon native had always dreamed of being a true U.S. soldier and citizen. (Courtesy photo)
Next Thursday, our nation will celebrate the Fourth of July with fiery bursts of red, white and blue exploding to the backdrop of the night sky, set to rousing patriotic melodies evoking memories of promise and what the future holds for the land of the free and the home of the brave.
However, for many of our country’s veterans the celebratory sounds of America’s freedom no longer represent the patriotic revelry it once did, but instead evoke memories of the reverberating sounds of mortar or heavy artillery fire and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) sending shockwaves through their body.
For veterans who’ve been to war and for those who may have developed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), what their minds and bodies once needed to survive in combat can unwillingly deceive them back at home.
In combat, their minds would intuitively sense danger and trigger a response flooding their bodies with hormones to raise their heart rate and blood pressure, sharpen their eye sight, and shoot adrenaline into their bloodstream preparing them for battle. When memories related to past traumas entered their minds, they pushed them away in order to concentrate on the immediate danger posed by enemy activity, hidden improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or other hazards.