Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Momism: Don't Set Off Your Veteran's Fireworks

Wednesday is the 4th of July. It's a great day and so very important to all of us, not to mention a fun day for getting together, swimming, cooking out. However, this week's post is going to be in the form of a Mom telling her kids to be careful.

Yes, there are the standard “be careful out there” spiels that we mamas say to our teens. “No drinking” or “No texting and driving”. To college kids: “No drinking and driving”. “Be home by curfew.” “Get your room cleaned up.”

Even when they reach adulthood, we have things we continue to go Mama about. They roll their eyes but deep down, they know the truth: it's because we care. They know they will be the same way in the future when they have their own children.

What I did not expect to add to my Momisms are the things I have had to since 9/11. “Don't be a hero, watch your back.” “Don't miss that appointment.” “Don't forget to take your medicine.” “Don't forget, don't forget, don't forget.” That seems to start nearly every conversation with my son these days.

Now here's a Momism for all of you: “Don't forget to remember that while fireworks are a way of celebrating the 4th of July, they are also a very real stressor for combat veterans who suffer from PTSD.”

What? Fireworks? Come on, how? No way! (Yes, way.)

Look up an old war movie if you haven't been in combat. Hear the gunshots and the explosions. Pretty good special effects, right? Well, those “special effects” are particularly good in fireworks. Now, do this: close your eyes and imagine yourself on that field. Can you feel the special effects? Most of you can. You can see how the fireworks could sound like explosions, right?

A combat veteran doesn't have to imagine. He or she can really put themselves mentally back in a combat field. When this happens, the stress of feeling it can make them believe they are physically there, resulting many times in negative actions and reactions.

The number one thing I want you to get out of today's post is that it is okay for you to have not been there but don't judge or think it's no big deal that someone else has. If you have a combat veteran in your family, show your appreciation by NOT setting off fireworks this year. If you don't have a combat veteran in your family, believe it or not, I'm happy for you. What about your neighbor? Someone you know has had his or her life changed forever by combat duty and so has their family.

We all have something that kind of scares us, bugs, clowns, guns, darkness. I love clowns but I don't judge adults I know that are scared of them. I kill or remove bugs because I know a lot of kids AND adults who are scared of them. I don't judge those people. So please, do NOT judge that combat veteran who freaks out over fireworks that sound like IED explosions in a war zone. Take my advice on this, please, and don't set off your combat veteran's "fireworks".  If not, then make sure you are prepared to end the party early if he or she is agitated over something that wasn't even their fault, their injury, their PTSD, their willingness to serve and protect this country.

Just remember, “Mom” told you so.


  1. This is so true. I am a combat veteran and began to cry uncontrollably during a fireworks display last night. I have never felt more alone in my life. This article has helped me realize that I am not alone. Thank you for spreading the word.

    1. Anonymous, thank you for your comment. I am also a certified peer specialist and if you would like me to help you find the right resources in whatever area you are in for you to either talk to someone or anything else, please email me. It will be confidential and will not be shared with anyone. My email is
      Thank you for your service and thank you for having the strength to acknowledge you were feeling alone. We want you to know that we care

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