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Indiana veteran says fireworks trigger PTSD

Posted at 8:49 PM, Jul 04, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — Fireworks are a fun way for many of us to celebrate our freedom on this holiday. But the sound of fireworks can be challenging for the men and women who have defended that freedom.

Nicholas and Katherine Reimke both suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"When him and I met we kind of bonded on it [PTSD] a little bit, I was able to talk to him, he was my comfort, and I was his too," Katherine said.

Katherine's PTSD was brought on by events in her childhood. For Nicholas, his trauma is more recent.

Nicholas joined the Marine Corps in 2007, right out of high school. And shortly after, he was deployed to Afghanistan where he faced combat.

"You have mortars coming into your operating base... you hear the sound," he said.

Sounds that are similar to that of fireworks.

For many Americans, it's the familiar boom of Independence Day celebrations, but for some veterans, it's a jarring trigger for their PTSD.

"You start hearing the bangs off in the distances, and you directly attribute that, and you go back to that combat lifestyle," Nicholas said.

The worst time to hear fireworks for Nicholas is when he is falling asleep.

"You immediately react as you would back then. It's really jarring it creates a lot of anxiety," he said.

Having his family support has helped him manage these moments.

"He does get shut in sometimes, and kind of gets to himself, but I've learned that when he gets that way just let him process it," Katherine said.

Nicholas said he doesn't want people to stop celebrating or setting off fireworks. "That's the right that we fight for," he said. "That's why we go to war to protect that freedom."

You can help him and other veterans by obeying fireworks ordinances that are in place.