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Showing Proper Respect to Vets on the Fourth of July

For patriotic Americans across the country, Independence Day is a time to celebrate our nation’s birth with a variety of activities and observances. But while we leave solemn observations to Memorial Day, July 4th is generally punctuated with the “rockets’ red glare” and “bombs bursting in air.” For decades, fireworks and firecrackers have entertained families, but calls are coming from veterans groups now to tone down celebrations, at least around vets who may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The movement started two years ago with a Facebook post that pictured U.S. Army veteran Jon Dykes, who looked as though he could have been anyone’s neighbor, standing behind a lawn sign that read, “Combat Veteran Lives Here. Please Be Courteous with Fireworks.” The post soon had more than 100,000 shares on the social network, alerting countless people that sudden, loud bangs from Fourth of July fireworks can trigger traumatic reactions in combat veterans.

At Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, our dedicated veterans’ benefits attorneys have helped many vets suffering from PTSD get the benefits they deserve. We think it’s important for civilians to understand that out of the 2.5 million combat veterans of the Gulf, Afghan and Iraq wars, seven to 20 percent may be suffering from some form of PTSD. Although we have no desire to dampen anyone’s holiday, or to incite unnecessary fears of former service members, we believe our heroes are due special courtesy and understanding for their service.

You may remember how returning Vietnam veterans were depicted in films and on TV as being prone to violent flashbacks. We categorically reject those cruel and inaccurate stereotypes. But we hope people understand that the sounds of explosions can prompt combat veterans to revisit painful scenes connected with battle and the loss of their comrades. This can cause a wide range of emotional trouble, from hyperagitation to deep depression.

So, if you’re going to shoot off fireworks, be aware of who your neighbors are.  Talk to the vet next door or down the block about your plans. That simple heads-up can make a world of difference for a vet, between a holiday that’s enjoyable and one that’s dreaded.

If you are a veteran suffering from service-related PTSD, Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban wants to help you obtain the VA benefits you deserve. Call us from anywhere in the nation at 866-866-VETS or contact our office online.

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