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Veteran encourages others to be a part of the Fourth of July celebration instead of fearing the fireworks

Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 8:22 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The Fourth of July holiday can be a difficult time for veterans as the fireworks that we all love to celebrate with can be a trigger for some vets’ PTSD.

That was the case for Veteran's Club Founder Jeremy Harrell for years.

“When I redeployed back in 2004, it was right in time for Thunder Over Louisville,” Harrell said. “I didn’t recognize that I would have an issue with fireworks until I went down there.”

What was a celebration for thousands was a source of major anxiety for Harrell.

“I just remember feeling like I needed to go and seek cover,” Harrell said.

It was a feeling he got at every celebration that involved fireworks making him dread a holiday that honors the very freedom he fought to maintain.

“The change came when I used to not allow my children to participate,” Harrell said. “I thought, wait a minute that’s not fair to them, that’s not fair to the family.”

That’s when Harrell said he decided to go from victim to victor, a mind over matter battle that was a different kind of challenge from anything he faced overseas.

“When I say these things, I don’t expect it to be looked at as I’m minimizing the struggle there, I’m not,” Harrell said. “I absolutely know what that feels like.”

But he said it was a battle that was worth it and one that ahead of the Fourth of July weekend he encourages other veterans to conquer too.

“I think it has to be said, and we’re so resilient, veterans are so resilient and we’re tough people,” Harrell said. “I think sometimes we have to kind of dig and go, ‘I know this is going to be uncomfortable, but it will temporarily be uncomfortable’ whereas I wouldn’t want you to go the whole rest of your life dreading Independence Day.”

Harrell said one of the biggest things that helped him was to physically go and watch the fireworks, so there wasn’t the surprise of when the noises would happen.

If you’re a veteran who wants help trying this new outlook or has any other needs, you can reach out to the Veteran’s Club online or through its Facebook page.

Copyright 2020 WKYT. All rights reserved.

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