Community Blog

Veterans Suffering from PTSD Deserve Respect and Fireworks Courtesy

By Debbie Humphrey

One of my care-giving colleagues shared a heartfelt story that I’d like to share with you.

When my friend was a toddler, her dad, and several dozen members of the “Charlie Battery” of the Kentucky Army National Guard unit in her hometown, were deployed from Ft Hood, TX, to Vietnam back in 1968. Fortunately, her Dad made it home safely, but at least seven of his “brothers” were not so lucky.

Two weeks after he returned home to his family, my friend’s Dad lost seven friends in one awful battle at a bunker known as Tomahawk, where he had been serving as Mess Sergeant only weeks before.

My friend and her family, including her Mom, watched a newly-produced documentary, “Fireside Tomahawk” about the battle, where my friend learned that the initial target of the first deadly rocket was the Mess Hall at 12:00 AM, June 19, 1969. Her dad would’ve been in that Mess Hall preparing breakfast for his comrades early that morning when the rocket hit. Her Dad knew it, too, and he carried enormous guilt until his death in 2004.

Thanks to learning the truth about the deadly battle, it made even more sense to my friend why her father suffered such extreme levels of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, after he got home from Vietnam. Seven funerals in seven days, along with heart-breaking guilt, had made a significant impact on her Dad and his subsequent alcoholism.

In our country, each month carries multiple themes to remind us to stay aware of special occasions, conditions, maladies, and diseases. One theme for June is PTSD Awareness, and it’s important that we remain aware year-round, offering respect for Veterans who have served overseas, as well as for others who have suffered significant trauma.

From now through Labor Day, proud American citizens will enjoy their freedom to celebrate summer, their independence and the birth of our great nation, among many other things.  They’ll fire-up their backyard grills, along with lots of fireworks. (As we speak, big tents are popping-up along the US 19 corridor, and Alt-19, too, enticing drivers to stop for all of the BOGO fireworks deals).

I like fireworks almost as much as my children and grandchildren, but I have a heightened level of concern for combat Veterans suffering from PTSD, and the devastating effects that can result from the loud blasts of exploding fireworks.

PTSD causes extreme anxiety in those with the diagnosis, and it is a non-discriminatory condition that affects not only combat Veterans, but people of all ages, races and genders.

PTSD occurs mostly in combat Veterans, but it also impacts people who have endured physical harm or the threat of physical harm. It can also manifest in people exposed to dangerous situations, or when a dangerous event involves a loved one or stranger. PTSD also affects individuals, who have suddenly lost a loved one, or know someone who has, and they internalize the pain and loss.

Those who suffer from this dreadful condition feel enormous stress, anxiety and endless thoughts of impending doom, even if there is no imminent threat of danger. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares and frightening thoughts. Since some fireworks mimic the sounds of small bombs exploding, they can trigger negative memories of traumatic events, like war.

Sufferers of PTSD often avoid objects, places, and events like fireworks displays that remind them of their traumatic experiences. They may have enjoyed fireworks in the past, but with PTSD, they are now regarded as extremely intolerable and disconcerting. It makes perfect sense that we make a conscious effort to show our utmost respect and exercise fireworks courtesy at upcoming summer and holiday celebrations, especially when living near combat Veterans suffering from PTSD.

Combat Veterans with PTSD should qualify for “Aid and Attendance” and are encouraged to apply through the government’s Veterans Assistance program. I am happy to guide you to the proper websites to begin the process, if you or a loved one with PTSD could benefit from in-home assistance.

If a Veteran you love battles PTSD, and qualifies for Aid and Attendance, benefits include in-home care from a recognized organization like Home Helpers®. If you are not a Veteran, but experience PTSD for any reason, the professional caregivers I employ are available to assist by providing companion care, transportation assistance, grocery shopping, light housekeeping and more. I gladly offer a FREE in-home consultation, so we can discuss how a perfectly-matched, compassionate caregiver can help.

We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award for 2017, 2018 & 2019. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠  727.942.2539

Source: Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

             Military.com

             Veteran’s Administration