Independence Day firework celebrations affect veterans

Navy Veteran Mary Hess will talk about how fireworks affect her and other veterans PTSD and how we can help

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)– While fireworks are fun for most people around the 4th of July, they can also stir up bad memories for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mary Hess is a U.S. Navy veteran and said that it is hard to disconnect the sound of fireworks from what they remember while deployed.

She is currently being treated for PTSD and said she and other veterans want to celebrate Independence Day, but it can be difficult.

“We wanna be out there, we wanna be out there with our friends and families, but it’s really hard because of what it reminds us of,” Hess said.

Licensed psychologist Gina Graham said that all veterans deal with post combat memories.

“They all struggle with it, if you’ve been exposed to combat you’re going to struggle with it,” Graham said.

Graham said that the biggest trigger for veterans dealing with PTSD is the random fireworks that are set off during the days before and after the Fourth of July.

“It causes a number of their symptoms that they might normally have pretty well managed, become pretty active,” Graham said.

Hess fears that no matter how much treatment she receives, she will never be the same.

“It’s never going to fix it, we’re never going to lose the memories, and we’re never going to be 100 percent, but we’re trying. And we want to be, but we’re never going to get there,” Hess said.

She said that in her experience, it helps to have a friend around. This keeps veterans suffering from PTSD grounded around holidays that trigger them.

Graham said that if you see people shaken up during firework shows to not be afraid to talk to them, sometimes all they need is to feel like someone is there for them.


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