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Holiday fireworks bring unpleasant memories to surface for some veterans

Posted at 10:57 AM, Jul 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-04 10:59:14-04
Fireworks will fill the sky throughout the city to celebrate Independence Day.
 
For the men and women who served our country, it can be a traumatizing day that brings back painful memories.
 
Some veterans say they would rather avoid the celebration altogether.
 
"I've gotten so bad that at times, I remember one time, I started crying, it had me that emotional," said Lee Davis, who was drafted into the Vietnam War in 1969.
 
Davis spent two years in the army and nearly 50 years later he still feels the effects from the horrors of war.
 
He suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome, commonly known as PTSD.
 
Davis said hearing sounds like firecrackers and fireworks go off in the neighborhood trigger moments when he was blown up by a blasting cap.

"It's just a feeling that comes over you," he said.

The way he copes is isolating himself in the basement of his house while fireworks are taking place.

Cindy Yamokoski, clinical psychologist, at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center said veterans reacting this way is not uncommon.

 

There's definitely a lot of anticipation, the loud noises, the fireworks, the bright flashes, not knowing when it's coming, so it is a pretty significant thing," she said.

Yamokoski said there usually is a surge of patients a few weeks leading up to today with veterans seeking help and coping strategies for their PTSD.

If you or a loved one may be triggered by today's festivities there is a hotline listed on the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs website: 1-800-273-8255.