Fireworks fire up cases of PTSD for combat veterans


Thousands will fill Centennial Olympic Park for one of Georgia's largest fireworks displays. It's tradition, after all.

Not everyone is reveling in the loud, booming, patriotic displays happening across the country as the nation celebrates its independence.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, has many veterans who fought for our freedoms dreading the day that celebrates that independence. Friday could force those veterans into isolation and cause them tremendous stress.

One veteran explains how he handles the Fourth of July.

"Being mindful of where you're at and who you surround yourself with," says Jason Bush.

For Bush, celebrating July 4 requires planning.

"For me, the biggest thing was engaging for the first time with other warriors through the Wounded Warrior Project and realizing that, hey, I'm not the only one dealing with this, I'm not the only one feeling this way," said Bush.

Bush, a Marine and combat veteran, like many, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. What are some of the triggers veterans might experience?

"Fourth of July, you have things like fireworks, crowds, just a lot of people, which can be very overwhelming to a warrior, a veteran," Bush said.

It's not just the sudden loud bursts that can sound like machine gun fire that are threatening, according to Bush.

"It may be a really difficult time for them for more reasons than just really loud noises," he said. "It's a patriotic holiday, it could be a specific date that they experienced a trauma and just letting them know you're there for them, and although you may not understand, you care about them."

"I went through a really dark time for quite a while before I realized that I wasn't alone through the Wounded Warrior project," said Bush.

While Bush says talking with veterans who've shared similar experiences can be helpful, so can spending the day with his three children, Asher, Seth, and Claire.

"From personal experience, just knowing that my family and friends understand me and accept me for who I am now, what we like to call our new normal, the new you, then that makes all the difference in the world," says Bush.

The Wounded Warrior Project is just one veteran service organization that can help combat veterans deal with the effects of PTSD. The Veterans Administration has its own PTSD program. Here's some information from the Wounded Warrior Project.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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