Veterans with PTSD plead: no fireworks at Independence Day celebrations

Fearing triggers of their PTSD, survivors say they would be flung back to the battlefield; 'Celebrations can go on without disturbing the warriors who continue to pay a price for Israel's defense'
Attila Somfalvi, Nir (Shoko) Cohen|

Last year marked a small victory for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) survivors when a handful of municipalities agreed not to cancel firework shows during Independence Day festivities. A year has passed since, and public awareness has grown but still many local authorities insist on their firework display.
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Dror Zicherman - a handicapped IDF veteran coping with PTSD, and Rami Yulazari - founder of NATAL Israel (Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War) running group, told Ynet Sunday, how the noise of explosions affect them.
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תל אביב
תל אביב
Firework show in Tel Aviv
(Photo: Reuters)
"I don't leave the house on Independence Day," said Zicherman. "The transition from the exemplary silence of Memorial Day to the noises and fireworks of Independence Day is difficult for me, so I prefer to stay at home." He says the loud noises trigger his post-traumatic stress and bring him back to the battlefield.
"As a PTSD patient, I constantly live my day-to-day life in the presence of the battle. I hear everything in high volume, especially fireworks and explosions. Their noise and smell throw me back to the war in a split second," he says. "I live in south Tel Aviv, and last year there were no fireworks in my area, but I heard them from neighboring Holon, Bat Yam, and other cities in the area. There will not be absolute silence. I hope that eventually, they'll stop with this. Celebrations can go on without disturbing the warriors, the PTSD survivors. After all, there is a country thanks to them. We live here thanks to them."
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חגיגות יום העצמאות בנתניה
חגיגות יום העצמאות בנתניה
Firework show in Netanya
(Photo: Ran Eliyahu)
Yulazari remembers a time that he participated in an effort to raise awareness regarding the negative effects fireworks have on those who suffer from PTSD, and emphasizes the positive outcomes that can come out of a change.
"This year there are at least 20-30 municipalities that switched to silent fireworks, low noise fireworks or pyrotechnic displays," he says. "There are amazing light shows today with drones and other alternatives. Now it's in the hands of the city mayors: They are the ones who decide if to hold firework shows or not," he says adding that he hopes for a law prohibiting fireworks like those already existing in other European countries.
"There are a lot of people who are bothered by fireworks. We've all been through missile strikes, and the noise of the explosions reminds people of things. Even kids and teenagers on the autistic spectrum are very sensitive to this noise, and so are animals," he says. "There are alternatives to fireworks. Let's celebrate but in silence."
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