As 4th of July approaches, here’s what to know about veterans, PTSD and fireworks

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It’s a good idea to check with the neighbors this year (and every year) before planning a Fourth of July party.

As the holiday weekend approaches, millions across the country are in preparation mode for celebrations, including grilling with friends and family and, of course, shooting off some fireworks.

For some people, however, fireworks may not be the fun experience that others imagine they are.

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In a 2020 blog post published by Penn Medicine News, researchers determined that people dealing with PTSD can be triggered by fireworks. 

Fourth of July fireworks are seen exploding across the night sky.

Fourth of July fireworks are seen exploding across the night sky. (iStock)

Since these explosives are usually set off at night, with bright flashes and loud bangs that come at inconsistent intervals, veterans may struggle with these types of celebrations.

Fox News Digital spoke with Dr. Tony Brooks, based in Washington state, about how to handle a Fourth of July celebration that also takes into consideration veterans who are dealing with PTSD.

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Brooks, a combat veteran himself and the author of “Leave No Man Behind,” explained that not everyone who is dealing with PTSD will be triggered by the same stimuli.

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He suggested that the simplest thing to do before having a Fourth of July celebration is to talk with neighbors. 

A U.S. Marine and parade goers carry a large American flag during the Coronado Fourth of July Parade on July 3, 2021 in Coronado, California.

A U.S. Marine and parade goers carry a large American flag during the Coronado Fourth of July Parade on July 3, 2021 in Coronado, California. (Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

“Too many times we just fail to have that simple human-to-human conversation that could make the difference,” he said.

Brooks said that instead of asking directly if fireworks bother anyone, it’s usually best to bring the topic up casually in conversation. 

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This method provides an opportunity for others to voice their concerns without forcing them to admit something they may wish to keep private, Brooks added.

Fireworks illuminate the sky above the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall during Independence Day celebrations in Washington, D.C., on July 4, 2021.

Fireworks illuminate the sky above the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall during Independence Day celebrations in Washington, D.C., on July 4, 2021. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP)

Brooks stressed that veterans who have issues with fireworks will most likely speak up if they’re mentioned, even if the response is as simple as “I’m not a fan of fireworks.” 

Not everyone is the same, according to Brooks.

And there are many veterans, including himself, who thoroughly enjoy Fourth of July fireworks.

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Fox News Digital also spoke with Dr. Leo Flanagan, a psychologist, trauma and resiliency expert in New York, about how veterans can prepare themselves for the upcoming holiday.

A U.S. Marine views fireworks from the South Lawn of the White House on July 4, 2018, in Washington, D.C. 

A U.S. Marine views fireworks from the South Lawn of the White House on July 4, 2018, in Washington, D.C.  (Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

Flanagan recommended keeping a comfortable distance from any firework celebrations. 

“Don’t take a front-row seat, especially in a crowd,” he said.

“Watch from a distance and place where you can move even further away if you become uncomfortable.”

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He also suggested using mindful breathing, especially in the days leading up to the holiday, since 20 minutes of controlled breathing several times a day can help with PTSD. 

Michael Hollan contributed reporting to this article.