An American tradition triggering PTSD

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - Sparklers, bottle rockets, and colorful firework shows will light up the sky on the Fourth of July.

However, the longtime American tradition may not be fun for everyone. The loud explosions can bring back memories of war to combat veterans.

"You think it's an explosion and someone's trying to kill you," said Dan Hoffman, a Marine Corps veteran.

Hoffman served five years in the Marine Corps, fighting during the Vietnam War.

Realizing in the 90's he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Hoffman had to change the way he celebrated holidays like New Year's Eve and the Fourth of July where fireworks are common.

"I just stay home normally, the noises can be a problem, but I know there's a lot more who has it worse than I do," added Hoffman.

The military veteran says he has learned to cope with his PTSD through therapy, being a group speaker, and his small dog, but as Steven Diaz with Hidden Wounds tells it, PTSD doesn't affect all veterans the same.

"When a veteran who has experienced trauma isn't expecting any of that, it can trigger a lot of those unwanted symptoms, flashbacks again, anxiety, fear. Those things really affect us veterans and even myself in a negative way," said Diaz.

Diaz says he had to eventually force himself to overcome his fear of hearing the sound of fireworks.

"What I like to do and what a lot of other veterans like to do is if you know that there's going to be a fireworks show or if you know when and where, you know go be a part of the festivities," said Diaz. "If you know when it's going to happen you know where it's going to happen, you know exactly where to look into the sky, you're going to enjoy it a lot better if you're just walking around, driving and then you see it and it scares you if you don't know what's going to happen,"

And a little kindness from others can also go a long way according to Dan Hoffman.

"If you have a veteran in your neighborhood, you might want to take into consideration where you're going to blow off your fireworks and such cause we expect it on the fourth of July , but two or three days before or three o'clock in the morning maybe it's not the best thing," added Hoffman.

For more details about PTSD, click here.