Fireworks can set off vets with PTSD

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Pyrotechnic displays will light up the Valley Tuesday. But for some of our Valley veterans, fireworks aren’t always a cause for celebration.

"It's just reactionary, even after all these years, it's still there," said Gerald Abrahamson, Army veteran.

"Those noises from the fireworks tend to bring back sometimes unpleasant memories," said Gene Wood, a combat veteran.

As the Valley skies burst into color tonight, Valley veterans are also preparing for the festivities.

Servicemen and women suffering from PTSD like Abrahamson and Wood say those traditional pyrotechnics can actually trigger memories of combat and induce panic attacks.

"People that never did go to war have a hard time understanding what it’s like for someone that did," said Abrahamson.

Abrahamson says the loss of friends in battle and the sights and sounds of war came home with him from Vietnam in 1969.

"A car would backfire, I’d dive to the floor, and then everyone's looking at you like you're nuts," said Abrahamson.

And even today, sudden sounds still affect his daily life. But everyone can do their part to ensure these brave folks get the respect and courtesy they deserve.

He suggests before you head out and light off those fireworks tonight, go ahead and knock on your neighbor’s doors and get to know who lives there. He says make sure that if there are any veterans, they're not caught off guard.

And that's all most vets we spoke to say they need. Because it’s not the noises they know are coming, but the ones they don't.

"It's noises that you didn’t know were going to happen, those are the ones that were the scariest when I first got out," said Abrahamson.

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