Fireworks Bring Wrong Kind Of Boom For Combat Veterans

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RICHARDSON (CBS11) – They fought for the very freedom Americans celebrate every 4th of July.
But there is something many combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder hate.  Fireworks.

Now, there is a new sign being handed out that is helping residents better understand the struggle before they shoot off fireworks this holiday.

“It just changes you. If you’ve never been shot at, you have no idea,” said Matthew Oliver, a U.S. Army Veteran who now lives in Richardson. “(It) makes me want to curl up into a ball.”

After serving overseas in Kosovo as a helicopter-door gunner and then Afghanistan, Oliver returned home and was later diagnosed with PTSD.

“When you’re there, it’s not a big deal. You get kind of used to it. But when you come home, it’s a total different story. Loud noises. I mean it’s just crazy,” said Oliver.

Every Independence Day, it is the boom and bang that impacts many veterans like Oliver.

“People don’t, you know they just blow it off. ‘It’s just fireworks.’ Yeah okay, when you’re getting rocketed and getting shot at it’s not fun,” said Oliver.

While many combat veterans do not like talking about it, they do not have to know. With the help of donations, an Indiana-based charity called “Military With PTSD,” gives away signs all across the country to veterans who need them.

The signs read, “Combat veteran lives here. Please be courteous with fireworks.”

“I think it’s awareness that you don’t know who has gone through what,” said Oliver.
Veterans like Oliver are just hoping folks read the signs this holiday and think twice before igniting fireworks.

“I used to love fireworks. But I just can’t do it anymore. Not after getting rocketed and fired upon. It changes everything and I just hope people understand that,” said Oliver.

Anyone who wants to donate to the group or request a sign can visit the charity group’s website.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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