July 4th fireworks a nightmare for some veterans with PTSD
Fri, 03 Jul 2015 21:10:36 GMT —
For many families, it's not the Fourth of July without fireworks. But for combat veteran Kris Tourtellotte, those same fireworks mean a quick flash back to Vietnam.
Tourtellotte joined the Army in 1966 when he was just 17-years-old. He spent three tours in Vietnam.
"When I got out in 1970, I figured this stuff would go away, but, you know, 46 years later it still bothers me." Tourtellotte said.
The whistling, booming and rapid speed of fireworks are all triggers for what Tourtellotte calls a "constant nightmare," from the time they go off until he wakes up the next day.
"Well you're originally put back in Vietnam, especially in the evenings because that's when the VC always threw the rockets and the mortars and all that stuff at you," Tourtellotte said.
Tourtellotte says the anxiety starts days before the celebrations do. He avoids fireworks entirely to prevent nightmares and flashbacks, but says veterans need courteous neighbors this time of year, who will warn them ahead of the warfare-like noise.
Tourtelotte says veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder do so in different ways.
"I see a lot of veterans, I know they're true combat veterans, they don't do anything. And then you got me who falls to the ground all the time," Tourtellotte said.
And though a warning from friendly neighbors helps, Tourtellotte says it's still a horror he can't escape.
"When it's coming in constantly, that's where you end up right back to Vietnam, and that's the last place you want to be," Tourtellotte said.
And it's nightmare that many people don't think about while watching the sky light up.