Caring for Veterans on the Fourth of July

By July 1, 2015Archives

The Fourth of July celebrates our nation’s independence is special to most Americans but to a veteran, it can be a particularly meaningful holiday. Veterans gave a significant part of their lives to ensure the freedom of our country and may feel especially reflective or even sentimental on this holiday.

While many Americans are celebrating the day with fireworks and a barbeque, the veteran may be remembering his time in combat and friends who were lost. For some veterans, this may even bring past trauma to the front of the mind. For those who came home from combat as “shell-shocked,” or as we know today with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the sounds of fireworks may trigger flashbacks.

Veterans may not wish to discuss their feelings about their time in combat. They should not be pushed to do so but allowing an environment where a discussion would be “safe,” he may open up. Other veterans are anxious to talk about past experiences and should be given an opportunity to share his experience.

Each veteran is a unique person and what is enjoyable to one may produce a great deal of anxiety for another. He should be given the choice of his activities for the day.

Here are some ways that he may prefer to spend the day:

Celebrate with family! Depending on the particular activities, he may enjoy that picnic or barbeque. He may want to spend time with grandchildren in a fun environment. If he chooses not to however, don’t press.

Hang out with other veterans. Maybe a trip to the VFW post may be in order. He is sure to find others in his same mindset and many VFW posts host a Fourth of July meal or benefit.
Attend a parade. If the town he lives in is hosting a Fourth of July Parade, the veteran may enjoy watching. He may even wish to wear some of his uniform or exhibit some other outward sign of his participation. If he is well enough, many parades have a section just for veterans to march in the parade.

Watch a movie. If old movies are a hit with him, he may wish to watch an old film. Pop some popcorn and enjoy the movie in peace. Whether it is a combat movie or just something else, a movie can be a great afternoon activity.

Watch fireworks on the TV. While some may not be up for going to the fireworks celebration but watching the Boston Pops fireworks show, the New York City show, or other large national displays may not trigger any latent memories and can be enjoyable.

As the Fourth of July approaches, listen to what your senior veteran says. Ask him what he would like to do on that day and be understanding of any unusual emotions that may come.

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