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Independence Day irony: PTSD has many vets dreading, avoiding fireworks

Published: Tuesday, July 3 2012 2:59 p.m. MDT

In this March 19, 2010 photo, former Navy corpsman Ryan McNabb, being treated for PTSD, poses for a portrait at his childhood home where he and his family live with his parents in Winthrop Harbor, Ill. After two stints in Iraq, McNabb, 29, works as an outreach coordinator for a Vet Center in suburban Chicago.

Charles Rex Arbogast, Associated Press

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Our Take: Even though dazzling fireworks are a source of joy and camaraderie for many, for some veterans the unexpected boom of a firecracker can take them back to the horrors of the battlefield and potentially ruin the day of independence. Take a moment to consider all who will be affected before lighting off fireworks this 4th. Bill Briggs of MSNBC reports:

As the nation's birthday looms — and, most definitely, on July 4 — an unknown number of combat veterans, including active and retired soldiers diagnosed PTSD or not, will cringe, flinch and feel anxious as the crackle of fireworks sporadically fills their American neighborhoods, towns and cities. The annual celebration of freedom has, for many warriors, become one of the worst days of the year.

But even veterans or active-duty personnel who have not been diagnosed with PTSD can — and will — feel antsy when the rockets red glare burst in midair.

"Firework agitation is a common reaction for those of us who've survived mortar attacks, bombings, and explosions," said Julie Weckerlein, 31, who five years ago served as a military combat correspondent for the U.S. Air Force in both Iraq and Afghanistan. She has not been diagnosed with PTSD.

Read more about Independence Day irony: PTSD has many vets dreading, avoiding fi on MSNBC.

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