TAMPA, Fla. - The sound of big booms, crackling fireworks and explosions lighting up the night sky is a sure sign of Independence Day, but for some, it can be far from celebratory.
"For veterans, it's a very strong reminder and trigger and especially if they were in a combat zone it can bring them right back to that place," licensed psychologist Dr. Elyssa Barbash
The latest data from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs shows up to 20 percent of veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. As Dr. Barbash explained, the loud and sudden noise from fireworks can be reminiscent of war and rock their nervous systems.
"They often can experience what we call a startled response and that's when a very loud and unexpected noise occurs. So, especially with fireworks, it can put them into a state of frenzy. They can become very anxious. They could have a flashback," Dr. Barbash said.
It's why Dr. Barbash says it’s up to neighbors to be courteous. To help, organizations like MilitarywithPTSD.org distribute signs like these reading, "Combat Veteran Lives Here Please Be Courteous with Fireworks".
So far, this year they've distributed more than 3,000 signs to veterans all across the country.
"For veterans, sound machines can help as much as possible to block out the noise, but they should set their mind that it is going to happen and hopefully neighbors can be helpful in letting them know when they're going to start setting off the fireworks," Dr. Barbash said.
If you do live near a vet and plan to shoot off fireworks, Dr. Barbash says doing so in daylight can be less triggering. If you do plan to shoot off fireworks at night be sure to let them know beforehand so they can plan.