KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — With one week left until the Fourth of July, veterans are sharing their experience with PTSD and showing how we can all be considerate neighbors around this time of year.
For most, Independence Day means celebrations with food, family and fireworks. For veterans living with PTSD, it can mean a weekend full of anxiety and stress.
Eric Gooding is an Air Force Veteran and is living with a mild case of PTSD. He says fireworks are his least favorite part about the holiday.
“Certain fireworks have different pitches to them. Some almost sound like AK-47 fire. So that triggers a little bit. Some of the ones that have a screaming or whizzing noise almost sound like incoming rockets or RPGs,” Gooding said.
Veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder can be triggered by the sights, sounds and even smells of fireworks. What some of us think are harmless celebrations, can take a veteran right back to the battlefield.
“It trips me back into my training to basically take cover, look around, try to assess the situation. I almost forget where I am for a second, I forget that I’m stateside and it’s just fireworks going off so it takes a minute for me to realize sometimes,” Gooding said.
But he’s not saying to stop the patriotic festivities, just to keep your veteran neighbors in mind as you celebrate.
“If you know someone who has issues with PTSD or anything like that just out of courtesy, just go over and talk to them a little bit and say, ‘Hey do you mind if I set off fireworks if I set them off at a certain time is that going to be a problem?’ I’d say the biggest thing is just being considerate and asking,” Gooding said.
If you or a loved one is battling PTSD or other mental health issues, there are resources available in the Knoxville area as well as statewide:
- American Legion Post #2
- Veterans of Foreign Wars: 865-523-7347
- Knoxville Veterans Affairs: 865-594-6158
- Mental Health Association of East Tennessee
- Tennessee Department of Veteran Services