Independence Day fireworks sparking bad memories for combat veterans suffering with PTSD

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- - They fought for their country so others could have the freedoms that are the foundation of our nation's independence.

On this 4th of July though, some local South Florida veterans are talking about the sparks of the 4th of July fireworks that force them to relieve painful memories.

World War II and Korean War veteran Rudy Warshawsky, 87, feels those memories have never faded. Of all days, he said it's the 4th of July that reawakens those painful moments.

"It brings back too many memories that I've been trying to forget," said Warshawky.

While it was not diagnosed then, Warshawky said he continues to suffer with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome ever since he woke up in a hospital after stepping on a land-mine in 1950

For 64 years, he has carried that burden. With just one bang of a firework, he is taken right back to the battlefield.

"Fireworks kill me. It sounds stupid, but every time I hear a firework I used to fall down, jump," said Warshawsky.

Psychotherapist Fran Sherman said fireworks are a trigger for many combat vets dealing with PTSD.
"It's just that noise. It elicits that part of your brain that actually remembers what happened," said Sherman.

What veterans like Warshawky can do is surround themselves with people who they are familiar with and district themselves when the fireworks begin on Independence Day said Sherman

"Do it some place I can't see it or hear it," said Warshawky. "That's all I can tell them."

Sherman said it is a good idea to be familiar with your neighbors to better understand if fireworks should be shot off in another location.