Vietnam veteran talks about PTSD and fireworks - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Vietnam veteran talks about PTSD and fireworks

VA offers help to veterans with PTSD VA offers help to veterans with PTSD
VA Mental Health Director Dr. Matthew Geyer VA Mental Health Director Dr. Matthew Geyer
Vietnam Veteran Gus Allbritton Vietnam Veteran Gus Allbritton
Unplanned fireworks can affect PTSD Unplanned fireworks can affect PTSD
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Army veteran Gus Allbritton used to love fireworks.

"I was the first kid at the fireworks place getting a bag of black cat firecrackers and bottle rockets and anything that blew up," Albritton explains. 

His love for fireworks and explosive toys quickly changed after he returned home from Vietnam. 

Allbritton says, "Fire crackers and fireworks remind you so much of... gun shots."

Which is a problem since Allbritton is living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), like many other veterans. Having PTSD can make listening to fireworks difficult. 

Veterans Affairs Mental Health Director Dr. Matthew Geyer says PTSD is triggered when the person is surprised. He says not knowing when fireworks will be going off is the real problem for them.   

"It's not the fact the fireworks are occurring, it's that a lot of times the people aren't expecting the fireworks... it's the fireworks displays that are done around their homes at odd times," explains Dr. Geyer.

You don't have to stop using fireworks all together to protect those with PTSD. Dr. Geyer says keeping an open dialogue and letting neighbors be aware of when you'll be using fireworks helps. 

After all, "these are our nations heroes who have come back and they fought for our rights to have things like fireworks," says Dr. Geyer.

Although Allbritton understands the love for fireworks he'll never celebrate the same again.

"I love this nation but Vietnam changed the way I celebrate Independence Day," Allbritton.

Dr. Geyer also points out it's important to remember anyone who's been through a traumatic experience can suffer from PTSD. 

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