Fireworks may act as trigger for veterans with PTSD - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Fireworks may act as trigger for veterans with PTSD

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CORTLAND, Ohio -

In the coming days, fireworks will be lighting up the sky.  For some service members, though, they may actually spark something much deeper.

"Fireworks replicate the sounds of IEDs and explosions that often times our combat vets have been exposed to and the small often times have the same smell as gunpowder.  So, it is often times replicating similar dynamics when they were in actual combat," said clinical director Amber Stiles-Bodnar with Blue Star Counseling Services.

It is believed about 20% of veterans who've served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, that number is closer to 33% among veterans who served in Vietnam.

Now, fireworks won't cause all veterans with PTSD to relive their war experiences.  Although, some may become more anxious when they're set off.  

"When they are setting them off themselves they are prepared.  They are the ones about to set them off.  It is not a surprise.  They are not as startled by the sounds, by the smells, by the lights and they are in control of it," said Stiles-Bodnar.

Stiles-Bodnar says if a veteran or active service member lives in your community, you are encouraged to let them know when fireworks will be set off.  If you are around a veteran who starts to have an episode during a display, encourage them to grab a friend and remove themselves from the area.

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