Northwest veteran says fireworks trigger flashbacks

Northwest veteran says fireworks trigger flashbacks

Credit: Paul Boehlke/KTVB

John Greene

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by Scott Evans / KTVB

KING5.com

Posted on July 4, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 4 at 3:00 PM

BOISE – As we get ready to set off fireworks, many of our nation's veterans will avoid the iconic sights and sounds of the 4th of July. In fact, there are a handful of pictures circulating Facebook asking people to be considerate of veterans when they light off their fireworks.

For vets with PTSD, the 4th of July is not what it was before they were in combat.

John Greene is one of our nation's veterans. He served two tours in Iraq post-9/11.

Growing up he loved the 4th of July. For him it was a chance to celebrate our country and our freedoms.

"Now I still understand the holiday, but I don't like it. I don't like to interact with it," said Greene.

The reason, it brings back too many memories of, as Greene calls it, "being outside the wire."

"This is what the 4th of July brings to me now is when I hear someone shoot off fireworks, and it's a nice mortar that goes into an air burst, I revert back to the emotions and the feelings and the fear of combat," said Greene.

So instead of celebrating, he plans to stay inside and away from the explosions. And he's not alone. Other vets are heading to the mountains or posting signs in their yard. The signs ask people to be courteous with their fireworks.

"I would never wish that we didn't have fireworks, because it represents who we are as a nation," said Greene.

During his tours in Iraq Greene searched for improvised explosive devices.

"You end up doing things and seeing things and experiencing the horrific facts that war brings," said Greene.

Suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, Greene says he's come to grips with fireworks and combat flashbacks.

"We all have the demons we deal with and the 4th brings them forward," said Greene. "Celebrate away,” was Greene’s advice to everyone, despite his struggles. “Enjoy the 4th, and those of us that, you know, paid the price, it's something we accept and we would do it again."

Greene is also a board member for the Idaho Veteran Network. He and others with the organization help vets who struggle with this and other issues when coming back into civilian life.

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