How to prevent July 4th PTSD for Hollywood veterans

HOLLYWOOD, CA – While families may be eagerly awaiting July 4 barbecues, rallies and fireworks, Independence Day can also be a time of stress and discomfort for some veterans of the ‘Hollywood.

Fireworks are usually the main cause of this stress, especially for veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD affects about 7 to 8 percent of the general United States population, a number that reflects only a small portion of those who have had a traumatic experience, according to the University of Michigan Health. For veterans and first responders, that number drops to 30 percent.

While the loud noises caused by fireworks can trigger traumatic memories, it’s usually the unpredictability of explosions that triggers a reaction in people with PTSD.

“It’s a physical reaction second, with the mental thought first,” Master Sgt. Michael McKenzie Sr., a Retired army ranger, said WCNC, based in Charlotte. “Your brain says I’ve been here before. The body says I’ve been there and says I need to do something now to protect myself.”

If you’ve purchased fireworks and want to redeem them before July 4 for gifts, you can hand them over this Wednesday to the Los Angeles Fireworks Redemption Program. Through sponsorship from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Food 4 Less, Target and NBC Universal, the city will reward attendees with tickets and gifts,

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Brand Park parking lot at 15121 Brand Blvd. in Mission Hills.

“We know how many of our pets, seniors and families have been traumatized by the explosives that are going to start to be used and become more and more used now, so it is very important that we start to develop alternative strategies.” said City Councilor Monica Rodriguez, who introduced the motion, briefed council members ahead of the vote.

If you’re a veteran, here are some of the signs that you might be experiencing anxiety related to PTSD, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs:

  • Light sensitivity to fireworks and sparklers, especially at night.
  • Loud reactions to sounds, such as fireworks and ceremonial gunshots and cannon fire.
  • Malaise or feeling of nervousness in the crowd.
  • Feeling more nervous or easily surprised.
  • Flashbacks (feeling as if traumatic events are actually happening again), frequently in response to sounds or smells.
  • Feeling emotionally distant or cut off from family and friends during celebrations.
  • Engage in risky behaviors, such as drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, to ward off unwanted traumatic thoughts.

If veterans are going through these things, they may not want to tell you.

Shawn Gourley, co-founder of the nonprofit Military with PTSD, told Marine Corps Community Services that some veterans might be concerned about addressing the issue because they don’t want to ruin whose vacation. whether it be. The stigma surrounding PTSD also plays a role.

Here’s one thing family and friends can do: Be proactive.

If you’re having a party or event on July 4th, the VA recommends a few steps you can take to welcome all guests:

  • Ask guests ahead of time if they experience any stress or discomfort while on vacation.
  • If you know of a veteran or trauma survivor who lives in the neighborhood, keep noise as far away from their home as possible and let them know ahead of time. Consider putting up a sign in your front yard to indicate when you will be doing the fireworks.
  • Consider other options for the celebrations. For example, if a veteran friend or family member is alarmed by the loud sound of fireworks, use sparklers rather than louder alternatives.
  • Consider reducing or removing alcohol from your event.

If you or someone you know has PTSD, you can call the Addiction and Mental Health Administration’s national helpline at 800-662-4357. If you have suicidal thoughts during your PTSD episodes, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

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