Fireworks trigger PTSD for veterans

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – You’ve been told that setting off your own fireworks is both illegal and dangerous but 22News discovered another reason you may want to think twice before firing your own off. It has to do with the veterans living in your neighborhood.

There are a lot of things people like about 4th of July. “Spending time with friends and family and going to a picnic, that kind of thing,” said West Springfield’s Doug McCallum.

While these colorful explosions may be fun for most people, Agawam veteran Frank Mazzei says it’s not so fun for veterans who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.

“Some people depending on their level of PTSD will actually go into that flashback mode with some of those explosions,” said Frank Mazzei. Doctors diagnosed Mazzei with PTSD after his years of service.

He says veterans can prepare for organized community fireworks, but when people shoot them off illegally in their neighborhood, it can be shocking for vets.

“A veteran is just like a dog. If you ever see dogs get scared during the fireworks, they crawl under the bed and are screaming and crying, well there’s a lot of veterans who go through the same thing,” Mazzei added.

That’s not the only impact your personal fireworks have, Springfield police say fireworks frequently set off their shot-spotter systems, and they’ll quickly respond to what they think is a shooting.

“That requires resources when you have to send officers to check those calls out. Call tickers have to enter that into our system, so it’s pulling on resources and the amount of fireworks calls obviously at this time of year is tremendous,” said Lt. Trent Hufnagel, Springfield Police Department.

Shooting off your own fireworks is illegal and can land you a fine, but police hope you’ll also consider the impact it may be having on your community before you choose to light them anyway.

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