PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Fireworks will light up the sky this weekend and July 4 as the country celebrates its independence and freedom. But for veterans who helped fight for that freedom, fireworks can bring them back to wartime.

“For some of our veterans, that can be very much a time of stress,” said Dr. Kelly Woods, a counseling psychologist at the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System.

Woods said fireworks can set off symptoms of PTSD with the constant pops and booms.

“When you think about fireworks, you think about lights, sounds, smell, just a lot of people gathering, loud noises,” said Woods. “So, if you have post-traumatic stress disorder, things like that can serve as triggers, especially for our combat veterans, making some feel like they’re right back on the battlefield.”

Woods said veterans experiencing these symptoms should try to cope the best they can, even if they need to stay with family or friends.

“If I have to stay in my home, what I’m going to do is find myself a very quiet place and surround myself with things I would call distractions,” said Woods. “You may want to watch television. You may want to put headphones on. Remind yourself of what’s going on.”

Woods said fireworks are bound to pop off over the next few days. But neighbors of veterans should try to keep them in mind before setting off fireworks.

“You have to pause for a minute and realize what you’re doing does impact other people,” said Woods.

For veterans experiencing symptoms of PTSD, help is available 24 hours a day by clicking the link here.

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