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Fireworks can trigger PTSD for local veterans

Local nonprofits and veteran advocates are reminding the community to be considerate of veterans this weekend.

AUSTIN, Texas — While the Fourth of July weekend is a time for families to have some fun celebrating with cookouts and fireworks, it can also be a weekend that is triggering for veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome, or PTSD.

"It's where our long-term memories stay in our frontal cortex as short-term memories. The sights, smells and sounds can make us relive these moments," said Denny Katona, the executive director of O.P. Veteran nonprofit.

Katona said if you have a veteran in your family, friend group or neighborhood, to be considerate of them this weekend.

Fireworks can resemble explosions and bring back traumatic memories for some, but he says others are unbothered by it or have limited hearing.

"In regards to fireworks – whether it be mortar attacks, rocket attacks, hitting IEDs – those are triggers that a lot of us have that have been overseas, and that's why a lot of folks are sensitive to fireworks. I'm fortunate to where I'm not. I have been able to find life after that trauma," said Katona.

Katona said he experienced PTSD for years after his deployment, any time he would smell burning hair. He says everyone has different triggers. He was able to get treatment through a holistic approach of therapy.

"I am a firm believer that every person is responsible for their own mental health," said Katona.

Click here for mental health resources for veterans. 


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