PTSD and Fireworks: How to Celebrate Responsibly This Independence Day

This Independence Day, Serving USA highlights a well-known but still ignored issue prevalent among our nation’s veterans: PTSD and Fireworks.


For some combat veterans, the loud, intense, and unavoidable sound of fireworks throughout the summer can trigger a reaction in their nervous system. The intensity and similarity of the sound can cause panic attacks, trigger flashbacks, and exacerbate the mental health symptoms these individuals navigate daily.


Affecting 8 million Americans each year, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) is a condition that develops after significant trauma such as exposure to combat, violence, or abuse (Penn Medicine 2020).


A 2020 study found prolonged trauma of severe interpersonal intensity, such as war, related to rates as high as 80% of CPTSD among treatment-seeking veterans even years after the war. Additionally, it was found that veterans with CPTSD were more likely to be divorced and have higher levels of functional impairment (Letica-Crepulja et al., 2020).


HOW YOU CAN HELP:

This Summer, consider the mental impact your actions could have on others. When using fireworks, consider taking the following precautions:

  1. Use fireworks on predictable dates only, such as the 4th of July, so your neighbors living with PTSD can prepare adequately.

  2. Restrict your use to reasonable hours so as not to disrupt sleeping habits and exacerbate PTSD symptoms.

  3. Consider relocating your use to a neighborhood removed from your neighbors living with PTSD, so the volume is less intense.

  4. Provide monetary donations to your local veteran's support organization to ensure abundant resources.


Interventions that enhance social support are critical for addressing the symptoms of combat-related PTSD. The Mighty Oaks Foundation is one of the many organizations partnered with Serving USA.


Chad Robichaux founded the Mighty Oaks Foundation after he realized countless combat veterans experience the same psychological, emotional, and spiritual challenges he did after serving in Afghanistan. The Mighty Oaks Foundation provides peer-based discipleship through programs, outpost meetings, and speaking events.


In military populations, PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) are frequently paired comorbidities, with over 70% of people with PTSD also having MDD. Concerns about life and family disruptions because of deployment and respect for social support after returning home were associated with the severity of significant depression symptoms (Goetter et al., 2020).


The impact of post-deployment social support on depression can be alleviated through peer support initiatives, including community integration efforts, psychosocial treatments, and group therapy (Goetter et al., 2020).


The Mighty Oaks Leadership team is peer-led and equipped with the lived experience necessary to recover. All instructors are program alumni, and each has a story of trauma through their time in service. Together, the leaders and participants connect in a forum not often found in clinical environments. Here, they can candidly discuss the effects of deployment, family separation, and managing PTSD at home.


The Mighty Oaks Foundation has four lodge locations throughout the United States. During their stay, veterans live in handicap-accessible, first-class facilities equipped with amenities to make their stay comfortable. Along with daily programs, the lodges offer a variety of recreational activities designed to engage in the comradery of their recovery.


Each program is designed to cater to the specific needs of the individuals The Mighty Oaks serves, including The Legacy Program for Men, Legacy Program for Women, Military Resiliency Programs and Conferences, Marriage Advance: Love Never Gives Up, and Aftercare Programs.


A 2020 study on hope, religiosity, and mental health found that hope is inversely related to PTSD, depression, and anxiety in veterans with PTSD symptoms. In this study, veterans with PTSD reported more feelings of hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and low levels of religious coping mechanisms compared to the control participants. The study concluded that supporting current and former military personnel's religious beliefs may help alleviate their PTSD symptoms and improve their overall mental health (Koenig et al., 2020). Serving USA is proud to partner with The Mighty Oaks Foundation and contributes to the positive findings of recovery and veteran support statistics.


About Serving USA:

Serving USA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to building a community of empathy and activism for those who are forgotten and most in need of assistance. Providing over 67 organizations across the US with financial support, Serving USA brings Grace and Redemption through Christ to Prisoners, Women in Recovery, and Military Veterans. In addition, we support a network of exceptional partner organizations with funding and other management resources to create, enhance, and expand high-quality, evidence-based, transformational programs.


For more information and to learn about all partners, please visit www.servingusa.org.


Questions, comments, or concerns can be relayed to info@servingusa.org.




Works Cited


Goetter, Hoeppner, S. S., Khan, A. J., Charney, M. E., Wieman, S., Venners, M. R., Avallone, K. M., Rauch, S. A. M., & Simon, N. M. (2020). Combat‐Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Comorbid Major Depression in U.S. Veterans: The Role of Deployment Cycle Adversity and Social Support. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 33(3), 276–284. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22496


Koenig, Youssef, N. A., Smothers, Z., Oliver, J. P., Boucher, N. A., Ames, D., Volk, F., Teng, E. J., & Haynes, K. (2020). Hope, Religiosity, and Mental Health in U.S. Veterans and Active Duty Military with PTSD Symptoms. Military Medicine, 185(1-2), 97–104. https://doi.org/10.1093/milmed/usz146


Letica-Crepulja, M., Stevanović, A., Protuđer, M., Tanja Grahovac Juretić, Rebić, J., & Frančišković, T. (2020). Complex PTSD among treatment-seeking veterans with PTSD. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 11(1) doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/20008198.2020.1716593