4th of July fireworks are the reason many look forward to the holiday. However, those fireworks are the same reason why Dawn Thomas says the Fourth of July, like New Year’s Eve, is a nightmare.
“I called my two worst times a year," said Thomas. "I actually did a Facebook post earlier Monday talking about how I’m not looking for to, and dreading, both those times of year because I don’t like the noises."
Thomas is a former combat medic who suffers from PTSD, and when hearing booms and bangs all he can think about is times on the battlefield.
“Some of the mortars going off are the same types that are used shoot off fireworks," said Thomas."It’s a great reminder and it causes great unease and stress."
Thankfully, the U.S. Veteran joined the Northwest Battle Buddies and now has a service dog to help him through tough times.
“He’s my battle buddy and he gets me through the noises in the tough times," said Thomas. "We stand firm and stand strong.”
While they support each other through the holiday, Thomas’s battle buddy also has a tough time with the loud celebration. Local experts say there are several ways to help vets and their animals, or other pets, get through these celebrations.
“As long as I think they are aware of what the possible triggers are and having an exit strategy, that could be very powerful," said Texas A&M University Central Texas Associate Professor of Social Work Col (ret) Jeff Yarvis. "For anybody there with they can sensitize them to the fact that that can be a problem for them."
And as for pets, Yarvis said there are ways to help your furry friends as well.
“Give them a quiet dark place they can go to in the house and when they get scared and want to go in there let them go," said Yarvis. "Don’t go in and try and cuddle them because you feed into their anxiety."
Experts also say getting through July 4 holiday you can also be a way to help local veterans recover from PTSD.