Veterans from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Springfield explain how Independence Day can be tough

Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 1:21 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 4, 2022 at 4:33 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Fireworks are fun, but veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder can have a hard time with explosive celebrations.

Veterans said the Fourth of July is tough for them because fireworks sound like automatic rifles. One veteran said he didn’t sleep last night because of the booms around him.

Arnold Wilkerson, Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Springfield, said the most important thing for veterans with PTSD is to reach out to them. He said the best thing to do is be with family and stay sheltered.

”They will completely disassociate themselves from the family sometimes and be hostile,” said Wilkerson. “But there are people that can help them with it. So they need to, they need to quickly get in touch with the VA (Veterans Administration).”

Wilkerson said the most important thing to do for veterans with PTSD is to reach out to them.

“We had one individual that was basically on the street, and had nothing we helped him,” said Wilkerson.

The veterans said you can’t get away from fireworks on the 4th, but reaching out can make life easier.

“He’s now a very active member in our post helps out here a tremendous amount and he’s completely turned his life around,” said Wilkerson.

Wilkerson recommends for vets to have a support system and have good shelter away from fireworks.

“Family is the most important,” said Wilkerson.

VFW members and Wilkerson said PTSD is hard to spot but if you see warning signs of someone being disinterested or distant, get them help.

“They’ll hide it, they won’t recognize it themselves and hopefully, someone sees it happening to them and, approaches them,” said Wilkerson.

Wilkerson said talking to other veterans first, can ease the process for getting help.

“We will talk to the veteran when they may not open up to the medical professional, but it’s so important for them to contact the medical professional, because the veteran while we can talk to him, we are not trained in handling this,” said Wilkerson.

Wilkerson said if you or a family member is having issues reach out to these agencies or organizations:

-Gene Taylor Veterans’ Outpatient Clinic: 844-501-8387 x64500

-VFW Post 3404: 417 865-6929

-Veterans Center: 417-891-4988

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