Fireworks symbolize freedom on the 4th, but can alarm those who - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Fireworks symbolize freedom on the 4th, but can alarm those who fought for our freedom

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Colonel Christopher Smrt was conducting civil military operations in Baghdad when his patrol and convoy was attacked.

“I was fortunate and unfortunate in the same respect," Smrt said. "It was both small arms fire and shrapnel from an IED,” Smrt said.

Any exposed skin was badly injured from the blast.

“I am officially rated by the VA with PTS. I have a mild but traumatic brain injury,” Smrt said.

 “Those people are typically hyper vigilant," said Jason Smith, M.D., an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Louisville. "Loud noises can have an exaggerated startle response to them. They may react differently."

During this 4th of July weekend, Colonel Smrt is asking you to remember your neighbors.

The Louisville metro area is a large veteran community, not far from Fort Campbell and Fort Knox.

“Those that have come home from ... World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, as well as the current global war on terrorism, carry with them every day a very visible and auditory reminder of that and can't separate those actions in their minds,” Smrt said.

“If that's a problem, you need to be cognizant of that and be respectful," Dr. Smith said. "That could be an issue, and you have to be careful around those situations so you don't engender bad feelings or worse, exacerbate the condition for the veterans."

According to the VA, 11 to 20 percent of veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom will have PTSD.

Plus, about 12 percent of Gulf War veterans and about 30 percent of Vietnam vets suffer from the disorder.

“It's important that people understand if they have a veteran living next door, they're going to go out and celebrate the 4th of July, which everyone wants to do, there may be a courtesy of knocking on the door and letting that veteran know they're going to engage in those fireworks,” Smrt said. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs has resources to help with PTSD.

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