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“Sounds like mortars and explosions I heard overseas.” Fireworks trigger PTSD symptoms in veterans



GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB)– The booms. The sirens. The screams.

All the sounds of the celebration of independence on July 4th can be triggering for U.S. Veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Christian Eshelman, an Air Force Veteran, struggled with PTSD for years after serving time in Afghanistan. He says the respect the community gives around the heroes that fought for our freedom, can help ease the pain.

“If people have veterans in their community and they’re big into fireworks, just maybe take a second to find out if that veteran is okay with fireworks and try to plan accordingly.” said Eshelman. “Hearing fireworks unexpectedly just takes me back there because it sounds like mortars and explosions that I heard over seas.”

For veterans like Eshelman and Brian Tibbet, they have overcome the pain of coming back home from war.

Tibbet believes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder conversations and awareness can help veterans feel at ease in their own way. He says there shouldn’t be a stigma against PTSD, as it is just a reaction to a traumatic event.

“Personally the way I feel is PTSD has been dwindled and used as a negative thing.” Brian Tibbet, Commander of VFW 9249 in Grand Island said, “I look at it more as my strength now. I am now a lot more vigilant.”

When Tibbet first came home from war, he felt isolated. With the support from his family and the Grand Island community, he started to overcome this feeling. He now encourages vets to get involved with others who feel the same way.

“Don’t hide behind a closed door thinking there’s no one to talk to.” said Tibbett, “Most things can be solved by just speaking it outloud.”

For veterans who are seeking support and help with Post Tramautic Stress Disorder, there are multiple ways to get support.

For vets who are seeking immediate help, call the Veteran Crisis Line at 1(800)273-8255 and press 1.

For veterans who are looking for local organizations around WNY, you can visit WNY Heroes Resource Center.

Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.



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