Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are asking Americans to be considerate when setting off fireworks this July 4 weekend – and are posting red, white and blue signs aimed at getting neighbors to give them a "heads up."
The signs – distributed to vets nationwide by a group called Military With PTSD – read: "Combat Veteran Lives Here. Please Be Courteous with Fireworks."
"It brings back your memories," Texas veteran Kevin Rhoades tells NBC News
about the explosive noises from holiday pyrotechnics – and why he's posting one of the signs in his front yard.
"The men and women who've fought over there, it brings back those memories, and I want people to be aware of it."
According to a Department of Veteran Affairs report,
an estimated 11-20 percent of military members who've served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from the condition in a given year.
Shawn Gourley, who started the Facebook group
Military with PTSD, tells CNN
a member's post last year showed a sign asking neighbors to be courteous with fireworks due to his PTSD.
With the vet's permission, Gourley said she then collected donations to give away signs free to any vets who wanted them, CNN reports. Vets signed up through the group's website.
"I think people wonder how you can be courteous with fireworks. It's not like you can make them quieter," Gourley tells CNN. "No veteran that served the United States wants to take a freedom away from people, especially fireworks, which represent freedom."
"They don't want them to stop," she said." What they're asking for is for people to give them a heads up."
Gourley tells CNN reactions from vets with PTSD often comes from the surprise of a loud noise, rather than the fireworks themselves – and recounted how an invitation to a fireworks display from a neighbor of one vet helped him get involved.
"What I took from that is that, wow, he has this connection that he hasn't felt since he's come home," she said. "It makes him want to get involved and he doesn't feel the need to isolate, which I think is amazing."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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