Fireworks Can Spark PTSD Flashbacks

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It's the day to celebrate America's independence, but for the people that fought for that freedom, the Fourth of July can be torturous.

"It is a nightmare," said Kent Hall, who served in Vietnam. "In fact some of them [veterans] run away, try to get away from that part of it because of the noise."

Hall is referring to fireworks. He's talked to dozens of veterans who can't stand the noise that can trigger flashbacks, which the Department of Veterans Affairs says can make former soldiers nervous, panicked and angry.

He also knows the flashbacks first hand.

Two years ago, Hall went to a Lansing Lugnuts baseball game on July 4. The fireworks that followed got to him. He says he flashed back to his last night of service in Vietnam.

"The brain is a funny thing, " he said. There's certain things that will come back at odd times that you don't expect. And it takes you right back to where you were."

The fireworks painted a vivid picture from 45 years ago.

"Somebody yelled 'incoming,'" Hall recalled, "and I looked up and I could see, it was like the whole horizon all around us on fire."

Roughly 30 percent of Vietnam veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the VA, but soldiers aren't the only ones who suffer. Anyone who experiences trauma has a chance of getting PTSD.

The VA says 6 out of 10 men and 5 out of 10 women experience some sort of trauma at some point in their lives.

While some deal with the fireworks by avoiding them -- many leave the area, Hall said -- Hall was back at the ballpark, ready to confront the explosives that affected him two years prior.

"It's just something I need to face," he said. "And I think the more aware you are, the easier it becomes, rather than running from it."

Hall didn't go to the game alone though. With the help of his wife and granddaughters, he said it's easier for him to be comfortable. The only way to get through PTSD, he said, is with support from your family and fellow veterans.

It's why Hall is doing his best to educate the public about PTSD, serving as associate director for Honor for All -- a group dedicated to the "invisible wounds."

Said Hall: "I feel God put me through all that so now that I understand what happened, maybe I can reach and touch a few other guys."

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