As It Happens

U.S. combat vets warn Fourth of July fireworks can trigger trauma

Combat vets are putting up lawn signs asking neighbours to 'be courteous' about their fireworks displays this year.
Military veteran James Frazier Jr. posted this picture to the Military With PTSD Facebook group. (Military With PTSD / Facebook )

Some U.S. combat veterans are putting up lawn signs informing their neighbours that Fourth of July fireworks can trigger the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Jeff Gramlich was a marine corps infantry soldier who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, he lives in Niagara Falls, New York. He tells As It Happens guest host Susan Bonner how fireworks displays can affect him.

"It's not necessarily the professional shows that bother me much," he says. "It's the little fireworks of neighbours that can trigger reactions.

"You're looking all around you in high alert."

The signs are being distributed by the group Military With PTSD. The campaign has caught on nation-wide, with hundreds of veterans posting pictures of the lawn signs.

Gramlich says it's not about ruining Independence Day celebrations, but encouraging people to think twice about what their neighbours have been through in combat. 

"It raises a lot of awareness to the issue that there are combat veterans in the community. It's important that you not feel bad for veterans, but it's being recognized." 

Some of the veterans who have put up signs warning people about fireworks. (Military With PTSD / Facebook)