As we celebrate our nation's independence this first week of July, we need to be respectful of the men and women that have spent parts of their lives in service of the nation.The explosion of fireworks can seem like summer fun to many, but they can trigger serious PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms in combat veterans.

Dr. Jeffrey Fine, Director of the PTSD program at VA New York Harbor Healthcare System says that there can be a range of reactions to fireworks, "...from a startle to a full-blown anxiety attack and flashback of combat." Dr Fine added, “It’s upsetting to most Veterans with PTSD. It’s something they try to avoid.”

“The flash of light, firecrackers, can sound to them like mortar attacks,” says Clinical Psychologist Dr. Wendy Katz who treats many Veterans with PTSD who dread the Fourth.

Here are some recomadations from the Department of Veterens Afferies:

Families can help ease the anxiety, said Clinical Psychologist Dr. Michael Kramer, a PTSD specialist at VANYHHS. If a Veteran has a strong negative reaction, he can have the support of his family and friends by anticipating a possible reaction and preparing for it. For example, if it is discussed, they can plan on where they will stand when they go out, make a point to stay close to exits and come up with a back-up plan if the Veteran has a bad reaction.” Dr. Kramer also recommended that patients avoid going out to see fireworks “if they predictably have strong negative reactions to fireworks, loud noises, and crowds.”

In this video Seth Maier, Veterans Representative from Worksource Spokane in Washington state talks about the effects fireworks can have.

Let's aware of what's going on and where we are when we celebrate freedom this Fourth of July.