Spending the night in the closet: What Independence Day means to a veteran with PTSD

Nick Natario Image
Thursday, July 5, 2018
Fourth of July and PTSD for vets
See what Independence Day means to a veteran with PTSD.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Many Americans celebrate the Independence Day holiday with fireworks to light up the sky. For a local veteran, that means spending the night in his closet.

The sight of fireworks is the last thing that Vince Bryant wants to see.

"Just to think that it's about to be the Fourth of July, so I'm going to have to go to my closet, put my headphones on and stay in there until it's all over," Bryant said.

Bryant served two tours in Iraq and is still impacted every time he hears fireworks.

"It sends me right back to Iraq. Automatically it puts me in a situation like we fighting," he said.

Bryant suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Veterans Affairs says upwards of 30 percent of military members returning from combat suffer from PTSD.

For those who have PTSD, medical experts say the majority will have issues during the holiday.

"My rough estimate in my practice is that about 70 percent of the veterans that have PTSD will report this afterward," said Dr. Leigh Bishop with the VA Hospital.

Because of fireworks, Bishop says patients will suffer from anxiety, stress and nightmares.

There are treatments, including therapy that is available to help veterans. Support must also come from family and friends, Bishop said.

"I know many veterans that have had that experience on holidays past just choose not to participate. I think it's helpful if family members and friends appreciate that's just something they need to do," Bishop said.

Experts say seeking help isn't always easy. There is a stigma that can come from talking about PTSD.

Bryant says it's a problem veterans need to tackle.

"You can't get help just sitting in the house because then that leads to other things. Depression, isolation, other things," he added.

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