PTSD and fireworks don’t mix -, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

PTSD and fireworks don’t mix

The American flag and holiday fireworks (Source: Lifetime Hearing) The American flag and holiday fireworks (Source: Lifetime Hearing)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - For many, the Fourth of July means good food, friends, and of course, fireworks, but those fireworks evoke a different kind of emotion for some of our local combat veterans.

For Kris Tourtellote, and vets all over the Grand Strand, the sound so synonymous with freedom, also brings back the price they paid to keep it.

"A lot of these things have screamers that sound like rockets coming in, some of them sound like mortars coming in, other ones sound like 105s going off,” said the director of the Veterans Welcome Resource Center. “You're just instantly right back in Vietnam."  

Tourtellote, along with many other local vets, suffers from PTSD, and says the Fourth of July puts him into nightmare mode.

Each firework, no matter how big, brings him right back to the battlefield. He says it's not only the all too familiar sounds, it's the not knowing what's coming next.

"You don't know when it's going to go off, much like you didn't know when the enemy was going to attack. When it does, it's sudden, and you go like this, and everybody starts laughing,” He explained. “Well, it's not funny." 

Tourtellotte says each vet handles the stress differently, but it doesn't always look pretty. We found video out of Montana shows one vet in a nightmarish battle with his PTSD.

"Imagine having the worst panic attack you could ever have, and then multiply it by 100,” explained Jewels Strickland, a local vet.

Despite the hellish struggle for some, many vets say celebrate the holiday all you want. All they ask is that you be courteous.

Some are now putting up signs as a reminder, but others just hope you do one thing.

“Warn your neighbor that’s a combat vet, hey, I’m going to be shooting off a lot of fireworks, do you want to come watch? Because a lot of times, if we’re aware and we know what’s going on, we don’t have any problems.” 

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