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Fourth of July fireworks can be traumatic for combat veterans

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by Gerard Ramalho

LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — For much of America, the sights and sounds of the 4th signify a time of celebration.

For others, however, the rockets and red glare are often a reminder of danger and fearing for life.

"It kind of gives me anxiety, and I just want to be inside, indoors," said one local Army veteran.

"What happened to me, while I was in the military, entails weapons being shot at me," another told News 3.

Veterans who suffer Post Traumatic Stress will tell you Independence Day, ironically, is a time when many feel insecure.

Army Veteran Alan Olarte served during Desert Storm.

"It is definitely a trigger. You definitely go back in time and you feel like you're there and gives you that feeling of anxiety, of insecurity, that feeling of not everything's good in the world."

And it is not just the booms.

Navy Vet Dean Hoxter says his brother, who served during Vietnam, gets anxiety with the “smell” of fireworks.

"When he smelled the gunpowder, that alone was still enough to make him want to do like we learned in grade school and go up under the table," said Hoxter.

It's estimated one of every five veterans who served in a combat corridor suffers some level of PTSD.

While many vets say they don't expect others to stop their celebrations, they would like some courtesy. Know your surroundings, they say, who lives in the area and ask before you light.

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