US veterans hurt by fireworks

This 2010 video says about itself:

Out of two million US soldiers who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, psychiatrists estimate that one in three may, at some point, develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is the story of five American soldiers stricken with PTSD. One is on trial for murder, two committed suicide and two others are still in the army, struggling to get treatment.

Another video, from Canada, used to say about itself:

A Combat Veteran‘s Story | Regret and PTSD | Part 1/3

This is not scripted and this is real.

Corporal Mazen Khosho on his experience in Afghanistan. 3 RCR Canadian Infantry.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in the USA:

07/01/2012 07:31:00PM

For some veterans, fireworks are reminders of combat

By Meg Jones

MILWAUKEE — He knows it’s just fireworks, but Andrew Sabin’s heart races anyway and he starts to sweat profusely.

The concussive booms sound like Iraq.

The 26-year-old Army veteran from Racine, Wis., didn’t have trouble when he returned from the war. But gradually fireworks displays began to affect him.

This Fourth of July, many combat veterans like Sabin will try to stay far away from fireworks displays. Fireworks take them back to combat, when the sounds of explosions meant sudden death and injury, not colorful rockets lighting up the sky on a peaceful, happy holiday.

“I get nervous and anxious and then I start thinking about mortars. And then the explosions — you start reliving it,” said Sabin, who is being treated for post-traumatic stress at the Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Milwaukee. “I start sweating, I get anxious and then hypervigilant. Then the next thing, I’ve got to go. Even if I’m looking at them, I still have problems.”

Psychiatrists at VA hospitals in Milwaukee and Madison know the Fourth of July holiday is difficult for veterans, so they begin talking to their patients several weeks in advance to come up with plans to handle fireworks. Some veterans check themselves in to the VA to avoid them, and some increase their work hours to make sure they’re busy at night when fireworks are shot off. Others hunker down in their homes, avoiding crowds or family gatherings where someone might ignite a bottle rocket or M-80. Some self-medicate to get themselves through the stress, or go off into the woods and camp to get away from civilization.

“It can be a really challenging and difficult holiday,” said Eileen Ahearn, a psychiatrist and medical director of mental health at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison.

“Parades, big celebrations, even a hero’s welcome can be difficult for veterans with PTSD. While we’re thinking we’re doing a good thing, it can be difficult for the veterans,” Ahearn said.

Military members are trained to be vigilant and hyperaware of their surroundings and for some it’s difficult to shut that off when they return to the safety of their homes, said Michael McBride, a psychiatrist at the Zablocki VA Medical Center.

The U.S. recently celebrated the Fourth of July with dazzling fireworks displays in many cities. After the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ faded, some people might have wondered how the lingering gunpowder-scented smoke affected air quality. Now researchers have conducted detailed measurements and found increased levels of several pollutants after an Independence Day fireworks event in Albany, New York: here.

A massive event at Detroit’s Cobo Center provided little in the way of job relief for veterans: here.

Iraq, Afghanistan War Veterans Struggle With Combat Trauma: here.

Suicide within the military has soared since 2005 as the military has waged two wars at once, and this year may set a record with troops committing suicide at the rate of one per day, according to Pentagon figures: here.

Conditions facing active military service members and veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan amount to nothing less than a social crisis. According to a report obtained from the Pentagon by the Associated Press, more American armed forces active service members have killed themselves in the first six months of 2012 than in the first six months of any of the previous 11 years: here.

A front-page Los Angeles Times exposé published Monday brought new attention to the systematic abuse of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans by for-profit education corporations: here.

10 thoughts on “US veterans hurt by fireworks

  1. Pingback: Birds and US Independence Day fireworks | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. On “Suicide crisis mounts for US soldiers and veterans“

    Thank you for writing on this issue. I would like to point out that missing from nearly every article on military suicide is the unknown “hidden and unreported” number of reserve, guard and inactive reserve component members of the military who are at much higher risk. Active duty members can access care on or off base 24/7 and it is paid for. Reserve members are more frequently uninsured due to high unemployment and nearly always isolated from their military peers (a very important support group).

    The Military Suicide Report
    16 July 2012


  3. Aug 16, 1:51 PM EDT

    Army suicides doubled last month from June’s total

    AP National Security Writer

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Army says suicides among active-duty soldiers more than doubled in July from the month before.

    That marks an acceleration of a military-wide trend this year that has caused Pentagon leaders to step up their search for solutions to a problem that has worsened in 2012 as the pace of combat has eased.

    The Army had 26 suicides in July among active-duty soldiers, compared to 12 in June. In May it had 16.

    Among Army Reserve soldiers not on active duty, there were 12 suicides in July – the same as in June.

    For the first seven months of 2012, the Army has recorded 116 suicides among active-duty soldiers. If that pace were maintained through December the year’s total would approach 200, compared to 167 for all of 2011.

    © 2012 The Associated Press.


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