Boom Of Fireworks Bring Bad Memories For Veterans W/ PTSD - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Boom Of Fireworks Bring Bad Memories For Veterans W/ PTSD

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QUANTICO, Md. - The fourth can be a tough time for some military veterans suffering from P-T-S-D.
     One vet I spoke with told us how the celebratory booms and blasts -- can actually bring back horrifying memories of combat.

Bombs bursting in air on the Fourth of July.  It's the sound of celebration and pride for countless Americans, but for some combat vets like Frank Van Vliet, the roar of the cannons is anything but a rally cry for revelry.

"Usually I distance myself as far as I can get away from the noise and the explosions and stuff," says Van Vliet.

Psychologist, Dr. Kathy Seifert, who specializes in dealing with trauma and violence says "especially if they're combat veterans, the sound, the loud bang or cracking sound can remind them of their combat experience."

Frank describes the feeling, "at first the noise just causes physical reactions. Jerks, twitches, start feeling a little nauseous. The anxiety takes over, and it starts becoming physically and emotionally painful."

Van Vliet is one of more than 5 million Americans living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

After two tours in Vietnam, Frank now helps other vets get back on their feet at the Veterans Support Center in Quantico.

Last Independence Day, the group went to watch the Shorebirds game and catch the fireworks, but the sound and vibration was too much for Frank.  "Went and hid in the bathroom. That didn't work," he says.

So, the 65 year old closed himself off in the bus who drove the group to the game in, and waited until it was all over, but even after all that,Frank says he's going back again this year.

"I mean, I could just not go...but you know, I work here to help the other guys, and this is all part of getting them out of here.  Getting them to do things.  Getting them out in the public," he says.

And that's something to celebrate.

Frank also had some advice for any vets who might feel like the fireworks will make them uneasy this weekend.

Stay sober, keep a clear mind, and if you need to, hang out with another vet who understands what you're going through.

Dr. Seifert says for family and friends to be aware that there might be an issue, but don't harp on it, and enjoy the night.

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