Fireworks trigger PTSD in some veterans

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - For Vietnam Veteran Norm Fickett, Independence Day is about much more than barbecuing.

“When people say: 'Have a happy Fourth of July.’ I say: ‘Yeah and enjoy your freedom,” Fickett said.

The retired Marine was injured three times in combat and lost several of his friends.

“Sometimes it seems like another lifetime,” Fickett said. “But at times, it takes me right back there.”

He said certain things trigger his post traumatic stress disorder like the smell of diesel and the sound of fireworks.

A few years ago he went to a celebration and was startled when fireworks went off.

“It just tore the hell out of me,” Fickett said. "I was down on the ground. I go down and cover myself up, you know, to keep from getting hurt.”

In his mind it sounded like gunfire.

“I didn’t see people,” Fickett said. "I didn’t see anything. I blacked out. The only thing I saw was my tunnel vision to where my car was.”

The sound of fireworks means, in his mind, he suddenly is right back on the battlefield.

“I have pictures in my mind of aircrafts dropping Napalm,” Fickett said. “Walking through clouds of smokes, I dream about that.”

His ancestors fought in the Revolution.

“They got us our freedom and we continue to fight for it,” Fickett said.

That is just one reason why Independence Day has particular meaning to him.

“I look around and see all these people enjoying their freedom and we had something to do with it,” Fickett said.

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