‘Sounds of combat:’ Beware of fireworks impact on local veterans during NYE

Fireworks

KENNEWICK, Wash. — While you may consider the big loud booms of fireworks as the soundtrack to celebrating the new year, for some local veterans, it can turn into a nightmare.

Michael Jackson, a veteran who works at the Veteran’s Thrift Store in Kennewick, said the bangs and blasts can sound like combat, bringing on war flashbacks.

“So the sounds of bombs dropping or being shot at it actually can trigger some pretty well depending on the day and what they’ve gone through,” Jackson said. “They’ll either jump to the ground or hide.”

On New Year’s Eve, fireworks are pretty much unavoidable but Jackson said being aware of your surroundings when you’re lighting them can make a world of difference.

“A lot of people that live in the community don’t know who those vets are,” Jackson said. “It could be your neighbor and you’d be lighting fireworks but you don’t know he’s a vet and that it’ll trigger it.”

Brooke Walton, the human resource manager at the thrift store, said it’s extremely important to “be mindful of their feelings and emotions.:

“A lot of veterans do live in the area, a lot of noises and bangs do startle them and can bring back some bad memories so we just want to be mindful and respectful of their needs,” Walton said. “They’ve done a fantastic job serving our country and dedicating their lives to it.”

Experts suggest that veterans grab a good pair of noise-canceling headphones and/or spend time away with loved ones.

If you do plan on setting off fireworks, the Washington State Patrol wants to remind you of these tips:

• Be Prepared – Buy only legal fireworks, have water nearby while lighting, and keep pets indoors.
• Be Safe – Only adults should light fireworks. Never light fireworks in your hand and never use them
indoors. Only light one firework at a time.
• Be Responsible – Clean up fireworks debris and soak used fireworks. Keep matches and lighters away
from children.

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