Psychologist talks PTSD in veterans ahead of July Fourth holiday

PHOTO: Kids lighting firecrackers, Photo Date: 7/24/2017
PHOTO: Kids lighting firecrackers, Photo Date: 7/24/2017(KMVT)
Published: Jul. 1, 2019 at 5:07 PM MDT
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KMVT has reported about the dangers of pets and fireworks, but there's another thing to be aware of this Fourth of July, military veterans.

Lead psychologist at St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Dr. Christopher Edwards explained what may trigger someone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

“A loud noise can happen, a certain smell, a certain sound, something else happens like that that brings back that memory to them, and it automatically triggers those responses to happen all over again,” Edwards said.

The Department of Veteran Affairs reports that between 11 and 20% of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD in a given year. Twelve percent from the Gulf War and 30% from Vietnam suffer as well.

With the Fourth on Thursday, Edwards explained what veterans with PTSD could experience.

“Basically leads to the service member re-experiencing that event over and over and over again," he said. "And every time the re-experience it, they have the same emotional responses, anxiety, fear, and bodily responses that they had during the time the event was happening."

Edwards speaks as not only a psychologist, but a veteran as well, serving in the U.S. Army. He never saw combat, but has helped those who have.

“Some combat veterans will tell you, you know, what I'm not ready for is July 1, 3 or 3, 5, or 6 or 7, when we can still have fireworks and the laws allow that to happen," he said. "They're not ready for those days. So those days are particularly difficult for them, with these unexpected noises, it's not July Fourth, their brain isn't processing that, so it can be incredibly frightening."

So if you have a neighbor who's a combat veteran.

“Maybe consider setting off your fireworks somewhere else, letting them know, 'Hey, I’m going to be setting them off,' so they know they're going to be happening,” Edwards said.

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