Protect pets, remain mindful of veterans with PTSD this Fourth of July

How PTSD service dogs help veterans
How PTSD service dogs help veterans(Heroe's Mile)
Published: Jul. 2, 2022 at 9:06 AM CDT
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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) Fireworks will light up the sky for the next several days as Fourth of July celebrations kick into full gear at events both large and small.

However, those loud booms can be triggering for many people.

“There’s all kinds of triggers for us as veterans,” said Allen Clark, who was a Military Intelligence Office in the Vietnam War. “It’s sad the things that so many of us have to go through we suffer our whole life, one way or another.”

Clark lost his legs during a blast in Vietnam and for years after, battled PTSD. The crack or boom of a firework can be triggering for him.

“Especially Vietnam vets, just hearing a helicopter out in the air - we think about it. Every time a helicopter goes over, I think about helicopters in Vietnam. It doesn’t bother me, but I just remember - the memories come back. Certain things are triggers for us,” said Clark.

The blasts in the sky can also make pets nervous too, and some may even run away.

The Humane Society of North Texas urges owners to microchip their pets just in case. “We always recommend that they have a collar and tags to identify your animals in the event that they do get out with the fireworks,” said Cassie Davidson, Director of Communications for the Humane Society of North Texas.

They also recommend that owners make sure the doors are locked and do what they can to comfort their pets.

“A lot of times, it’s just knowing your pet. What does your pet need from you? Sometimes it’s a little pat on the head and they’re good to go after that, sometimes they just need to be reassured that everything is okay.”

The VA recommends these things for veterans to cope with days like the 4th of July:

To help veterans cope with holidays like the Fourth of July, the VA provides a number of tips:

  • Avoid avoidance. Avoidance can be a short-term fix, but it tends to worsen the problem over time. It’s helpful to confront safe triggers you’ve wanted to avoid gradually. Some Veterans may need help from a mental health professional.
  • Remind yourself where you are and what is happening around you. Repeating simple reminders, like “this is not a combat zone,” and “these are only fireworks” can help reset the brain during a PTSD trigger.
  • Change the body’s temperature. Safely lowering body temperatures can quickly remind someone where they are and help quell PTSD triggers. Veterans can take a cold shower, or use an ice pack, ice cubes, frozen vegetables packs, or splash cold water.
  • Schedule meaningful activities you enjoy. Planning self-care can boost your mood, which can offset the overall impact of stress triggers.
  • Prioritize your mental health and seek treatment. The VA offers support and care through evidence-based treatments for PTSD, stress and anxiety. The VA also offers the PTSD Coach Mobile App, which provides information and coping skills to help manage anxiety or distress. To schedule an appointment with Hines VA Trauma Services, call 708-202-4668.

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