Veterans with PTSD struggle with Independence Day fireworks - FOX 32 News Chicago

Veterans with PTSD struggle with Independence Day fireworks

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For most Americans the Fourth of July is a time of celebration filled with food, fun and fireworks.

However, that last item can be a nightmare for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, fireworks can trigger anxiety in veterans with PTSD. The loud blasts and flashing light sometimes inducing panic attacks.

The phenomenon is something a Las Vegas family deals with every year.

Adriana Copeland never thought her Fourth of July Holiday, which used to include parades and barbecues, would now be a day marked by fear. Her husband, Chris Copeland, has PTSD.

"It's progressed since he retired, since he became a civilian," she said.

Chris Copeland served as a diesel mechanic for 16 years. He completed two tours in Iraq and retired from the Army in 2012. During his second tour, he was hit by a suicide bomb.

"Five of his guys died, and only two survived. He was one. And the doctor that was inside the Humvee [was the other]," Adriana Copeland said.

Adriana Copeland said it was that experience along with many others that left her husband with PTSD. She said he suffers with depression and anxiety. The loud bangs and lights that come with the Fourth of July flood Chris Copeland with emotions. He's had similar problems on other holidays and even birthdays.

"He can't even hear balloons. We never have balloons in the house because if it accidentally pops, he goes automatic into... he zones out. And he believes he is back in the war zone," Adriana Copeland said.

Chris Copeland is getting therapy. His wife hopes others will begin to recognize the sensitivity veterans with PTSD have to fireworks and limit them to July Fourth only.

Adriana Copeland said her husband this year turned in his gun at a nearby police station. She said he doesn't think he'd ever hurt anyone, but he surrendered his weapon because his first instinct when he hears a blast is to survive.

Doctors recommend noise-canceling headphones for people with PTSD on the Fourth of July to mitigate the effects of sudden, loud noises

There are several organizations service members can turn to for help.
Here are a few options:


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