July 4 fireworks can trigger PTSD in veterans, doctors remind

CHICAGO (WLS) -- While the July 4 fireworks can be a celebration for some, they can also trigger trauma and PTSD for combat veterans.

"When I hear noises, or loud bombing noises, like everyone else hears, that unnerves me, not to mention being in massive crowds," said Oscar Solis, veteran of the US Marine Corps.

Solis is part of a PSA produced by Hines VA Hospital addressing what veterans may be experiencing this weekend, and reinforcing that help and treatments are available.

"Luckily, there are many, many effective treatments out there for PTSD that can really help you get back into the driver's seat, so it's not traumas, not these reminders dictating how you live your life," said Dr. Annie Tang, clinical psychologist at Hines VA Hospital.

Tang said veterans can schedule meaningful activities to boost their moods this weekend, come up with a plan before fireworks starts, and remind themselves in the moment about what's really happening, the reality, when the fireworks are going off.

And if your loved one has experienced combat, she gave this advice.

"It's really up to the veteran how much or how little they choose to share," Tang said. "And all we can do as loved ones is show our support and love, and guide them to resources and information if they are open to it.

Here are some resources for veterans coping with PTSD:

National Center for PTSD

Veterans Association's PTSD Coach App

Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital Trauma services
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