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The sound of fireworks can be hard on veterans

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Pixabay.com DagMary
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Fourth of July celebrations are underway but they can bring back traumatic memories for veterans.

"Fireworks are great when I know they are coming," Corey Dornbrack said. "But if I don't know it's happening, it puts me on edge and puts me on guard."

The Fourth of July is a day Americans celebrate the country's independence, but the traditional fireworks display sounds similar to combat on battlegrounds. Dornbrack was in the service from 1988-2016 and has dealt with the post-traumatic stress response of unexpected fireworks.

"I have had neighbors have parties, and fireworks go off. I get on guard, agitated," Dornbrack said. "I am looking to see which direction it came from and where the best place to hide is."

Psychiatrist and veteran doctor Mahmoud Ahmed with Marshfield Medical Center said everyone needs to be thinking about military members during the holiday weekend, looking for ways to make it easier on them, not the other way around.

"One of the defensive mechanisms people will have is suppression, kind of put this experience in the back," Ahmed said. "But when you hear fireworks, oh my goodness, this is gunfire."

Both Dornbrack and Ahmed recommend talking to your neighbors and seeing how they feel before lighting up the sky this holiday.

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