PHARR, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The sounds of fireworks can resemble gunshots, and that can add to the stress of veterans suffering from PTSD.
“The simple thing of just the smell of gunpowder can trigger something. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the noise,” Marine veteran Alfredo Ortiz said.
Every year, people across the world celebrate the end of the year with fireworks. What some don’t realize is these colorful lights can bother some of your neighbors, who happen to be veterans.
According to veteranaffairs.gov, the brain is very good at pairing things, especially threats. Combat veterans and those who worked in combat zones can pair threats with whatever was in that environment, including things they saw, heard, or smelled.
“Most people because it doesn’t affect them. They don’t consider it. They don’t think about it. But it’s something that we ask the community to consider while they’re popping fireworks if they’re going to pop fireworks,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz, who is a veteran, said his triggers depend on the situation and the environment that he’s in. He also works with other veterans in the community to help them with their mental health in any way possible.
“We’ve actually been getting calls, I actually helped out a veteran recently here in our community that was reaching out because of fireworks and firearms being set off by his neighbor. So we actually had to go make contact with the neighbor. We had to go through city ordinances and explain the city ordinance of fireworks and firearms,” Ortiz said.
Setting off fireworks is illegal within city limits, and if caught you could get fined.