Veterans caution neighbors as firework shows can set off combat - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Veterans caution neighbors as firework shows can set off combat flashbacks

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Many people will show their patriotism with fireworks this holiday weekend, but for some combat veterans, that loud display of pride can cause problems. Many people will show their patriotism with fireworks this holiday weekend, but for some combat veterans, that loud display of pride can cause problems.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Many people will show their patriotism with fireworks this holiday weekend, but for some combat veterans, that loud display of pride can cause problems.

"We spent about $300," said Taylor Shirrell, who loaded up a car with a cart-full of fireworks. "It's a show, we are very prideful of our freedom," she explained.

However, Army combat veteran Joshua Veilleux, cannot delight in the holiday weekend.

"You can't enjoy it," he said matter-of-factly. "I know, my birthday's on the third, so it's kind of depressing I can't enjoy the fireworks as much as I used to."

His last flashback was a year ago.

"Flashbacks are no joke,” he said. “You don't know what's going on."

Fireworks can be a major trigger for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"A veteran could fully disassociate and not be fully aware they're in the present, but think they're back in combat," said Cindy Ramminger, who works with veterans through the Robley Rex V.A. Medical Center. She said on this holiday weekend, it is a good idea for PTSD veterans to have a friend or family member to stay with them, in case they are triggered.

Ramminger says talking to neighbors is key.

"Ask the neighbors if they would just give them a heads up that they're going to be shooting fireworks," she said, adding that when the fireworks are a surprise is when it can really be problematic.

"If I know they're coming, I'm alright. It's the worst when they just go off," Veilleux confirmed.

Communicating with neighbors can help veterans prepare. Ramminger and Veilleux also suggest they try to block out the noise.

"You can turn up music, watch a movie, go camping," said Veilleux.

Veilleux will be escaping somewhere quiet this weekend and says he is making progress.

"This past Thunder over Louisville, I actually enjoyed the fireworks for the first time since 2004," he said.

Ramminger says Thunder over Louisville is another time of year when veterans in our area struggle.

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