Vet Voices

Keep veterans in mind when setting off backyard fireworks



When fireworks flash and bang in the sky, kids and adults may be thrilled.

But veterans in the neighborhood may experience flashbacks to a time when those sights and sounds meant the need to react fast to avoid injury or death.

At the Wheeling Vet Center, Director John Looney says that reaction doesn’t go away, even years later.

Fireworks make a noise that’s like mortars, artillery and grenades.

And the closer they are, the more you can feel the concussion.

Veterans were taught to drop to the ground or get underneath something when that happened.

And that training became a reflex—as automatic as blinking your eyes.

So they suggest that if you’re going to set off fireworks, let your neighbors know ahead of time.

“Be considerate and responsible to your neighborhood,” said Looney. “Tell people ‘We’re going to let off fireworks and we just want everybody to know. And if you want to, come on over.’ Make it an event that they can either participate in, they can know about or they can avoid.”

He says that way, the veteran has the choice—to get away for a while or at least be prepared that it’s going to happen.

He also suggests that if you really want to set off fireworks, it’s better to take them out in the country.

Because after all, they are forbidden anyway in the City of Wheeling.

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