WOODHAVEN, Mich. (WXYZ) — Fireworks are often synonymous with Fourth of July celebrations. However, for those who have seen combat, the loud sounds and sudden pops can be triggering.
“I don’t think anybody does it on purpose to be mean, I just don’t think everybody knows that that is a big trigger," said local veteran Jennifer Smith.
Smith served in Kuwait for eight years, and lost her then-fiance to an IED explosion. For her, fireworks on the Fourth of July often present a challenge.
“When they’re happening at midnight, two, three in the morning, a lot of the times, even myself, I’m rolling off the bed and rolling underneath my bed because it sounds like you’re back overseas," Smith said.
The city of Woodhaven is offering free signs for Woodhaven vets to remind their neighbors to be courteous when lighting off fireworks during the Fourth of July.
“The city is not against fireworks. We do our own fireworks," said Mayor Patricia Odette.
The city has offered the signs for a few years. Mayor Odette hopes they serve as a gentle reminder to use common sense and courtesy on the holiday.
“Be aware that your neighbor is a veteran," she said. "Be aware that those firecrackers sound like gunshots to them."
Gordon Soderberg is the director of Veteran's Green Villages in Detroit.
He too struggles with the sudden popping sounds of fireworks. While he and other veterans with PTSD helped their community prepare for a fireworks display, Soderberg told Action News when the show starts, he'll leave.
He said not all veterans want to be publicly identified with a sign. He's hoping that instead, neighbors in Detroit take the time to ask.
“Know the vets in your neighborhood and say hey are you going to be around the Fourth? We’re planning on blowing some stuff up is that cool with you? And vets are not going to stop anybody from celebrating the Fourth of July," he said.
If you live in the City of Woodhaven and would like a free sign, contact city hall at 734-675-3000.