‘Please be courteous’: North Carolina veteran reminds neighbors that fireworks can trigger wartime PTSD
In North Carolina, an Afghanistan and Iraq War veteran reminded his neighbors that fireworks are not fun for everyone by displaying a sign asking them to be mindful of his explosion-triggered post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to High Point, North Carolina’s Fox 8, a sign outside of the home of Marine Corps veteran Kevin Haynes sparked a conversation about the severity of PTSD.
“Combat veteran lives here,” the sign reads. “Please be courteous with fireworks.”
At the bottom of the sign is the URL address for Military with PTSD, an organization committed to “helping families connect despite PTSD.”
Haynes is one of the 20 percent of American veterans that has PTSD, a disorder that can triggered by noises like the shooting of fireworks that resemble explosions or gunfire.
“If I don’t know it’s coming and I just hear it, anywhere, anything from flashbacks to my whole body will tense up,” Haynes said. “Instant anxiety, it puts me right back into combat mode. It puts me right back in fight or flight.”
Despite the triggers, though, Haynes said he doesn’t want to be defined by the disorder he experiences.
“I don’t use the term ‘struggle’ or ‘suffer from’ at all, because if you struggle with it, if you suffer from it, that means it has control over your life,” Haynes said. Rather, he chooses to say he “lives with” PTSD, “because if you live with something, it doesn’t control you.”
Haynes and his wife, Jennifer, told Fox 8 that they put the sign in their yard not only to raise awareness about what they deal with, but about the plight of PSTD survivors in general. They advised viewers to try to stop and chat with the people who put out the sign, and then share the message to get the word out.
“If we can be that voice for at least one other person, then I think we’re doing an OK job,” Jennifer said.