Be mindful of veterans with PTSD during 4th of July weekend
SAN ANTONIO -- The pyrotechnic displays during July 4th bring back painful memories for thousands in San Antonio.
Tony Roman joined the Marines at the age of 17.
"I turned 18 in a rice paddy in I Corps," said Roman.
He served four years in the Marines, two of them active duty in Vietnam.
But all these years later fireworks still transport him back to the battlefield.
"You hear the popping and it sounds like a firefight," said Roman.
For many combat veterans, the sound of fireworks isn't the only thing that can trigger PTSD.
"In a firefight you can smell the gunpowder and blood," said Roman. "It's a smell you'll never forget."
Dr. Lindsay Bira a clinical research therapist and says we should all be sensitive of where we light fireworks.
"You might see them jump or even hit the ground," said Dr. Bira. "There can also be a level of mood change."
There is a lot of stigma surrounding combat veterans seeking help, but Bira says care for PTSD is not reported.
"The research shows that if you can expose over and over and remind yourself that this is a different setting with a different source of the noise that's how things get better over time," said Bira.
It's what worked for Tony after years of fighting PTSD on his own.
A doctor advised him to have a glass of cold water when experiencing a flashback.
"In Vietnam there was no cold water," said Roman. "It's a weird trick but it works."
For roman, he'll enjoy the holiday weekend with his family indoors -- a glass of cool water in hand.
"It's something that doesn't go away," said Roman. "You learn to live with it."
One of the things that helped Roman is his neighbors would warn him when they were about to shoot off fireworks.
For more information on treatment for PTSD and treatment options head to strongstar.org.