HELENA — The Montana VA is encouraging everyone to consider those with PTSD before lighting off their fireworks for the 4th of July.
According to the National Center for PTSD, about 6 out of every 100 people, or 6% of the U.S. population, will have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at some point in their lives.
While fireworks are expected on the evening of July 4th, the VA says they’re not always expected or appreciated on the days before or after, especially in the early morning hours.
"For neighbors, who might have a neighbor who has PTSD is to be cognizant of how the blasts of fireworks, the sudden boom, the flash of light, the smells in the air might activate a person's symptoms of PTSD," said Dr. Robert Connell, Acting Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health for the Montana VA.
One way to make it easier for those with PTSD is to ask around.
"Montana has one of the highest veteran populations per-capita in all of the country. What I would ask all Montanans to do, is check in with your neighbors, talk to your neighbors. Ask them about fireworks, ask them what times would be good to light off fireworks, ask them what times would be troublesome to light off fireworks," said Connell.
Veterans with healthcare from MTVAHCS can speak with a counselor for methods to deal with PTSD. Earplugs, headphones, and even getting out of town can be helpful options.
Connell reminds veterans that they're not alone and that they are resources to help.
"There are a lot of resources that we have, to educate the public and veterans in particular on PTSD, resources for help with PTSD, and treatments that are very effective in the treatment of PTSD," said Connell.
Connell recommends for veterans in Montana who would like mental health treatment call (406) 447-6000 to the Montana VA's mental health service line.