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  • Writer's pictureMorgan Cobb

Everyone loves 4th of July! Right?

The 4th of July, Independence Day. It is meant to be a celebration of our nation. A time we thank our current service members for their service and remember the sacrifices of our ancestors. It’s a time we think of how much we accomplished as a nation. Many individuals however find it difficult to celebrate.

Why would an active-duty service member or veteran have a difficult time on the Fourth of July?

Many service members have seen and experienced events during deployment they have a hard time talking about with non-military personnel. Some individuals have a hard time consolidating their experiences and assigning meaning, especially when the events they witnessed were not positive. It is difficult to celebrate when a service member feels their contribution did not make a difference or wasn’t enough. Service members can use counseling to help gain insight and assign meaning to even the most difficult memories.

PTSD is a separate and equally distressing set of symptoms which sometimes arise after a service member has experienced more than their mind was able to process at any given time. The Fourth of July can be especially challenging for those suffering from PTSD because of the trigging events: the fireworks, the crowds, etc. PTSD treatment involves identifying triggers, learning to accept and understand limitations, and processing through distressing events.

Why would an individual who did not serve in combat struggle during Fourth of July?

All holidays come with expectations. Whenever we have expectations or expectations are placed on us, we have entered a dangerous relationship. Whether we expect our families to behave a certain way, or our families expect us to behave a certain way. Maybe we don’t like to dress like most people in mainstream society. Maybe we feel that the USA that is being celebrated has belittled and marginalized us. No matter the reason some individuals have feelings about Independence Day that deserve respect. Counseling is a safe space where individuals can express unpopular opinions and feelings without judgement.

I am close to someone who seems stressed about the Fourth of July holiday, how can I help them?

Individuals need space to express themselves without the pressure of being fixed. If a family member, friend, neighbor, or coworker is expressing their personal trouble with a holiday, grief, or any challenge, start first by just listening. Acknowledge their struggle. Sometimes sitting with pain and discomfort is the hardest thing to do but it is the most therapeutic. If they ask your advice, give it. If the challenges have been going on for a long time or seem acutely distressing support your friends to seek professional help.

Many individuals who experience PTSD also experience suicide ideation. Remember that expressing the desire to harm oneself should always be taken seriously. If you ever have concerns that an individual is planning to end their life. Call local law enforcement, a counselor, or take the individual to the hospital.

If you are struggling this 4th of July, as a veteran, or an individual with PTSD from a non-combat related situation. We can help. Please visit our resource page or contact us to begin individual counseling.


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