Posted by Myron J. Goodman, DCoE Public Affairs on July 1, 2015
Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
Watching fireworks outdoors, grilling our favorite meals and
listening to loud music may sound like an amazing way to celebrate our
nation’s birthday, but for others it’s no picnic.
In particular, service members and veterans with posttraumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) may not enjoy the party. Loud booms and bright
unexpected flashes of light can trigger
flashbacks, and some may choose to skip typical Independence Day
events. Wounded warriors coping with other psychological health or
traumatic brain injury concerns may also find these events trigger
mental or physical symptoms.
“There is no shame in declining to attend fireworks displays,” said Cmdr. Angela Williams-Steele, clinical psychologist and chief of evidence-based practices at the Deployment Health Clinical Center.
Independence Day doesn’t have to mean fireworks and cookouts. Alternatives are available. Finding calmer, quieter ways to celebrate might mean creating traditions that differ from what we remember growing up. Family members might enjoy an escape from the bustle and noise, or a chance to travel over the holiday.
“Engage in a private celebration by taking a ride in the country away from populated areas,” Williams-Steele suggested.