“Be Courteous with Fireworks” Signs for Combat Vets: Do They Help?

We’re coming up on the Fourth of July, the day on which we celebrate our nation’s independence from England. Fireworks, both at community shows and outside private homes, are a long-standing traditional way of marking this important day in our nation’s history. However, not everyone appreciates fireworks. We’ve long seen notices suggesting that people keep their beloved dogs and cats safe from the terror they can experience because of the commotion. Now, there is a growing movement among combat veterans with PTSD to place signs in their yards, asking people to be courteous with fireworks. Does it help?

The Washington Post asked just such a question. The veterans with PTSD overwhelmingly suggested that it is not the fireworks on the 4th that are the biggest problem. They are prepared to deal with that day by going camping in a quiet place or even wearing heavy headphones during the revelry. It is the week prior to and after the 4th, when people randomly set off fireworks while the rest of us are trying to do things like mow the lawn and cook dinner that is the greater issue. These unexpected bursts of sound, which remind the veteran of war, can have grave and immediate consequences for the PTSD sufferer.

Comments to the Washington Post piece were clear that instead of placing signs in the yard, individuals would much rather see and participate in a candid conversation between neighbors. I happen to agree. There is something almost passive aggressive about placing a sign in your yard without having that kind of conversation with the folks next door. Although I prefer to go to a community fireworks display rather than light off my own, I would have no problem at all accommodating a veteran’s needs in my celebration plans, and I dare say most people would be happy to be considerate of those in need. I also imagine that there could be something healing in saying to your neighbors, “Hey, I could use a little help/consideration from you” that would build bonds between us.

Put up a sign if you must, but talk to your neighbor too and see what happens.



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