The 4th of July fireworks are the reason many are looking forward to the holidays. However, those fireworks are the same reason Dawn Thomas says July 4th, like New Years Eve, is a nightmare.
“I called my two worst times of the year,” Thomas said. “In fact, I posted an article on Facebook earlier on Monday explaining that I don’t research and dread these two times of the year because I don’t like noises.”
Thomas is a former combat medic who suffers from PTSD, and when he hears booms and bangs he only thinks of his times on the battlefield.
“Some of the mortars that explode are the same type that are used to shoot fireworks,” Thomas said. “It’s a great reminder and it causes great discomfort and great stress.”
Luckily, the American veteran joined the Northwest Battle Buddies and now has a service dog to help him get through tough times.
“He’s my fight buddy and he gets me through the noises in tough times,” Thomas said. “We remain steadfast and strong.”
As they support each other over the holidays, Thomas’ battle buddy also struggles with the boisterous celebration. Local experts say there are several ways to help vets and their pets, or other pets, get through these celebrations.
“As long as I think they are aware of the possible triggers and have an exit strategy, it could be very powerful,” said Jeff Yarvis, associate professor of social work at Texas A&M University Central Texas. with them, they can make them aware that this can be a problem for them. “
And when it comes to pets, Yarvis said there are ways to help your furry friends, too.
“Give them a dark, quiet place where they can go in the house and when they’re scared and want to go, let them go,” Yarvis said. “Don’t go in and try to cuddle them because you are fueling their anxiety.”
Experts also say spending the July 4 vacation may also be a way to help local veterans recover from PTSD.