LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Fireworks and extravagent displays are a staple of Fourth of July. However, for veterans who struggle with PTSD, the fireworks might set off anxiety and flashbacks.
“Fireworks go off and their mind immediately goes back to that they’ve been fired upon or that there’s an explosion somewhere close and it creates a lot of anxiety and disassociation,” said Jeremy Harrell, the CEO and founder of Veteran’s Club, Inc. “It can be really unnerving for veterans.”
Harrell served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He knows just how hard this is for the men and women who fought for their country, and he wants to help them get to a comfortable place and enjoy the day.
“The way that I got over that, it took several years,” said Harrell. “But the way I got over is that I had to change my mindset behind it.”
Harrell and the Veteran’s Club will be available this holiday weekend to help veterans get through the triggers and combat flashbacks fireworks will cause for vulnerable veterans with PTSD.
“I don’t want my fellow veterans to go their whole lives dreading our Independence Day, that is so ironic for that to happen and we don’t want it to happen,” said Harrell.
Harrell said a helpful tip is for a veteran to watch people set up fireworks. At least for him, it helped his mind distinguish the sounds and help keep those negative thoughts at bay. He wants to encourage veterans to remember that the celebrations represent why so many of them decided to enlist.
“Be a part of the celebration. In fact, every veteran who has ever served has had a hand in preserving our way of life so it is only right to be able to enjoy that and go out and remember why you signed that dotted line,” he said.
Harrell wishes everyone a happy and healthy holiday and hopes veterans find some fun.
“Just from the bottom my heart, I want them to embrace and enjoy this holiday,” said Harrell. “They’ve done so much and put blood, sweat and tears into preserving it."