For most Americans, the 4th of July celebrations are never complete without bright and loud fireworks. For war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), however, this can be a nightmare.

What many people may not realize is that loud noises, such as those that resemble gunfire and explosions, often serve to only aggravate the effects of the condition.

Now, a group of concerned citizens aims to raise awareness about the condition, especially among revelers this holiday weekend.

Shawn Gourley and her husband Justin struggled with the effects of PTSD for five years. She first noticed the change in her husband after his term of service in the United States Navy from 2000 to 2004. It was not until 2009 that they found out that Justin was actually suffering from PTSD.

"What got me the most was no one told me what could happen, and I didn't want to see another spouse go through that," Gourley said. "If we can start talking about [PTSD] and help each other prepare, maybe they won't make the same mistakes I did."

Gourley launched a Facebook group called Military with PTSD, which is dedicated to raising awareness about the disorder. The group eventually became a non-profit organization.

In 2014, Gourley noticed a post on the group's page by one of its members showing a sign that asked neighbors to be courteous about using fireworks because he suffers from PTSD. While the man did not want to attract media attention, Gourley shared his idea to other group members who approved of it.

With the original poster's permission, Gourley started to give the signs to veterans with PTSD who wanted to place them on their lawn. She first purchased around 1,000 signs in May 2014 using donated funds.

Military with PTSD members have now sent out 2,500 signs as of June this year, with another 3,000 more set to be given out to other people. Gourley said the signs are sent to veterans for free, but some of the recipients choose to pay the shipping cost for their own sign as well as for another veteran. The signs are paid for using money from donations.

Some people have questioned the messages written on the signs, but Gourley explained that the veterans do not want to prevent their neighbors from using fireworks during their 4th of July celebrations. She said they just want to be given a "heads up."

Photo: Port of San Diego | Flickr 

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