'Fireworks' yard signs helping vets suffering from PTSD

Fireworks are an Independence Day tradition...New Years Eve too. But sometimes the loud, unannounced booms take veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder back to a place they don't want to revisit.

'It's not always harmful to other people by any means.  But they end up in their room for the rest of the night, they don't want to come out, they don't want to deal with it, they don't want to hear it...because it put them in a very bad place," said Army veteran Cody Breckel.

FOX 7 spoke with Shawn Gourley from Evansville, Indiana via Facetime. Gourley is the co-founder and Executive Director of the non-profit "Military with PTSD." She started the group because of her frustration with the way the V.A. was treating her husband, a Navy Veteran.

"In fact it took us five years from the time he came home to actually be seen at the V.A. and I didn't want any other spouses going through what I did," Gourley said.

Gourley's husband also struggled with the sound of fireworks for years.

Last year, after getting the idea from a veteran, the group started mass producing yard signs that say "Combat veteran lives here.  Please be courteous with fireworks."

The signs were a hit all over the country.

"We've got a waiting list of 1,500 vets right now," Gourley said.

Gourley says last year they shipped more than 4,300 of the signs and hope to have sent out about 10,000 by the end of this year.  With the exception of occasionally asking for shipping costs, the signs are free," Gourley said.

"86% of the veterans that we sent signs this year, we sent them at absolutely no cost," she said.

Gourley says the idea is not to stop people from popping fireworks -- it's about giving combat veterans a heads up.

"If the veterans get that, they do fine because when they know that the fireworks are coming, they're okay.  It's the unexpected fireworks that trigger them and bother them," Gourley said.

One of the success stories Gourley has heard -- a group of kids saw one of the signs in a vet's yard and told their mom before setting off their fireworks.

"The kids and the mom went down to talk to the veteran and they explained to him that they saw the sign and they didn't want to upset him.  But that they would like to set off fireworks and the veteran told them he said 'go ahead,' he actually went out and set fireworks off with them," she said.

Gourley says the signs are actually made here in Central Texas at a sign shop in Lago Vista.   

Even though it may be too late for tonight's celebration, she says they hope to have more ready to ship by next week...plenty of time for New Years.

If you would like to learn more about the signs and how to order, head to www.militarywithptsd.org

 

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