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Yard Signs Ask Neighbors To Consider Combat Veterans Before Lighting Fireworks

A picture of the fireworks yard sign.
Military With PTSD has been distributing free yard signs to combat veterans in advance of Independence Day.

Some combat veterans are posting signs in their yards, asking neighbors to be courteous with their fireworks this July Fourth weekend. The signs come from a non-profit called Military with PTSD, and it's sending them to vets across the country.

Christine Weber is a former Marine with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who lives in Charlotte. She says sudden loud noises, including fireworks, remind her of gunfire and rocket launchers during her deployment in Iraq.

"Then it brings to mind people that I know that may have died, or tragic things that have happened or... It just sort of starts this chain of events, this sort of domino effect, and takes me back to a place that I try to stay out of," Weber says.

"Fireworks, loud noises, even an unsuspecting backfire of a car makes me feel like I've got to be on the lookout even more than I already do."

Weber says she requested a yard sign because it allows her to raise awareness about PTSD without having to discuss it with her neighbors. She knows other veterans who are doing the same.

"It's a way for them to sort of make this announcement without having to have that confrontation with people. It's something that's not necessarily easy to talk about or that people really want to talk about because... At least for me, you know, you don't want to have it come across as being like this weakness, like, 'You can't handle it.'"

John Bigger of Cape Fear Valley Behavioral Health Care recommends that combat veterans spend the holiday in a place that feels safe, and that they consider wearing ear plugs. He also says residents who're planning to use fireworks should notify their neighbors first.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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