The sound of fireworks on the Fourth can take veterans back to the battlefield

Posted at 1:51 AM, Jul 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-04 01:51:44-04

SACRAMENTO, CA (KTXL/CNN) - Fourth of July fireworks are a hallmark of celebrating freedom. But for some who have risked their lives defending that freedom, fireworks bring them right back to the horrors of the battlefield.

“It’s my anxiety and my depression. I’m trying to get away from the noise," said Vietnam War veteran Richard Tincher.  

Tincher lives in Mather Village, a complex built exclusively for military veterans. He said when he and many of his neighbors hear the explosions of fireworks, it triggers their post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

“I kind of like, turn the TV up, shut the windows,” Tincher said.

At Mather Village, some cases of PTSD are worse than others, but any fireworks show nearby could trigger quite a few people, said James Brashear, commander of the West Sacramento VFW.

“You’re sitting on your couch and all of the sudden there’s this loud explosion outside. Those are the ones that trigger the memories, that are pulling you back into your deployment time," Brashear said. 

He said some vets avoid big firework shows, but even inside their homes, they can’t avoid hearing loud firework explosions in their neighborhoods.

“You’re setting of explosives next to a guy who’s been blown up for a year. It’s gonna cause problems,” Brashear said. “My heart rate immediately, jumps. Shortness of breath.”

He said he really doesn’t think people realize what some veterans go through this time of year. Tincher and Brashear don’t expect fireworks shows to stop, nor do they want that. But they said if you’re lighting fireworks off near your home, get to know your neighbors. One of them could be a veteran, reliving the war from their living room.

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