'Military veteran lives here – please be courteous with fireworks'


Hiding behind his car, the man reached over and fired his rifle – convinced he was under attack, like he had been while serving in Afghanistan.

But there was nobody there to hurt him near his Waukesha home last week. It was fireworks that had gone off nearby, CBS 58 explained, triggering a response from the combat veteran who suffers from PTSD.

"It just sounded really loud and really close and he's told me before the fireworks sound like the guns over in Afghanistan," his wife told the station, adding he "was so upset he hyperventilated and passed out."

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates 11-20 percent of veterans who served in the Middle East suffer from PTSD, CNN reports. Loud noises, such as fireworks or gunfire, can trigger a reaction.

And that's why the group Military with PTSD does what it does.

'Please be courteous with fireworks'

Every year the group works to create and send out signs that veterans and their families can put outside their home, saying something like: "Combat veteran lives here. Please be courteous with fireworks."

The Explosions of Kindness campaign isn't asking you stop setting off fireworks. All they ask is that, if you see a sign, let the family that lives there know ahead of time what you're planning. The heads-up gives them time to prepare, or even leave the neighborhood.

"We know there will be fireworks and expect it on the 4th," the group says. "Us as veterans have the responsibility to prepare ourselves for that day or go elsewhere away from the Fireworks."

There are approximately 369,149 veterans in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs 2014 report.

About 21 percent of them are at least 65 years old. Since 9/11, more than 66,000 Minnesotans have been discharged from active duty – about 43,000 served in a combat zone.

Signs for free

Long-term, Military with PTSD hopes to be able to send all signs out for free to any veteran that wants one. This year, about 70 percent got sent out for free.

"[B]ut to everyone who donated, bought supporter signs, bought the special edition branch signs, and to all those who did pay for shipping of the free signs thank you. You all made this possible," the group said on Facebook.

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