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July 4th Crowds, Fireworks Trigger PTSD For Combat Veterans

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Posted at 6:35 PM, Jul 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-30 19:38:48-04

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Four deployments in eight years can take its toll.

“I've been to Iraq three times and Afghanistan once,” veteran Jonathan Klein explained.

Thousands of miles from the battle field, four years since coming home for good, and the effects still linger.

“You're never actually in that calm mode,” he said. “Stuff in the middle of the road, your brain is thinking why is that in the middle of the road? Is that an IED? What's going to happen? The fireworks and everything, it brings back a lot of memories and flashbacks is what we call them. It's emotional sometimes and it reminds you about those people who didn't come back with you.”

Independence Day has been known to be difficult for this combat veteran, not because of what we celebrate but how.

Big crowds and fireworks have been known to trigger symptoms of Klein's PTSD.

“I've been laughed at around this area and other places,” he said. “When you're not expecting that big boom you hit the floor. That's the first reaction.”

You have to remember, during deployments that boom could mean the difference between life and death.

“I wish there was an on and off switch. There isn't unfortunately,” he said.

It's a new reality Klein has been learning to live with. For now it has required him to stay away from large Fourth of July celebrations. But he had one request of his neighbors and others in the community.

“Especially if you live near veterans or active duty service members just let them know, hey around this time I'm going to shoot some fireworks,” he said.

He said a heads-up would make it so much easier, especially during this holiday weekend that his service has allowed us to continue to celebrate.