An Explosion of Kindness

The “Explosion of Kindness” campaign is to educate everyone on the effects of fireworks on veterans. Military with PTSD shares stories of how veterans are affected by the fireworks and how they cope. This year Jon Dykes (read Jon’s story below) shared a photo with a sign he made to let others around him know he was a veteran and to ask them to please be courteous with fireworks. The photo of Dykes with the sign was posted July 1st at 1:30 pm on the Military with PTSD Facebook page and has been shared over 320,000 times.  Military with PTSD, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to raising awareness about PTSD among service members. We hope to have the signs manufactured on a large scale to give out to veterans in time for Independence Day in 2015.  Veterans and family members are also welcome to make their own personal sign for personal use if they would like to. 

Every post and picture tells a story.

Explosion of Kindness

An Explosion of Kindnessv

Veterans and FireworksCreative Commons License
Explosion of Kindness; “Combat veteran lives here. Please be courteous with fireworks” sign by Jon Dykes and Military with PTSD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.facebook.com/MilitarywithPTSD/photos/pb.121108197936675.-2207520000.1404754678./710434295670726/?type=1&theater.

 

Jon Dykes, a combat veteran, served in the Army from January 2000 to October 2010. Jon was with the 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 3rd Infantry Division as a Cavalry Scout Section Leader in Fort Stewart, Georgia. He deployed to Iraq four times during his ten years in the service.

Dykes, was first diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2003 after his return from his deployment during the invasion/liberation of Iraq. His unit was part of the initial push into Baghdad.

Dykes said, “I was told then that I did not have to deploy anymore, but there was no way that I was going to allow my brothers to go back and me stay home on the sidelines. The way I saw it, as long as I was deploying and fighting the enemy in their own backyard, they would be too busy to come attack my family in theirs. There was no easy deployment for us. No base or FOB. We lived among the Iraqis, moving from house to house constantly. Always surrounded and always outnumbered. I lost my very best friend in 2005 and several other great soldiers over my deployments. No exaggeration or lie. IED, small arms ambushes, and mortar/rocket attacks were a daily occurrence. Never saw a Subway, Burger King, or MWR show on my deployments. We were fighting a war and were constantly reminded of that.”

Dykes said he enlisted in the Army because, “It was a dream of mine since I was a kid.” His plan was to retire after 20 years military service; he loved the Army and even called it his life. Dykes continued to serve until he was medically discharged in 2010 for physical injuries and PTSD.  During his service, Dykes received a Combat Action Badge and the Bronze Star.

After his reaction to fireworks last year that left him completely exhausted and feeling like he was under attack and back in combat, Dykes decided to make a sign this year to let his neighbors know he was a combat vet and ask them to please be courteous with fireworks.

Dykes is receiving counseling for his PTSD at the VA, but like most veterans with PTSD, Dykes struggles with fireworks still and remains at the point where a firework blast can prompt symptoms that last hours. Among veterans, his reaction to fireworks is not unusual; often veterans with PTSD symptoms are triggered by both big pyrotechnics and little firecrackers.

Dykes said, “Courteous to me means remembering that you are not the only one living in your neighborhood/town/city. America celebrates our independence on the 4th of July. Not the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th of July. Some fireworks are expected, and that’s okay. I understand. But, not 24 hours a day. PTSD and combat veterans aside, what about the new mothers trying to keep their babies asleep, the elderly couple that doesn’t need another heart attack induced, or the guy that works odd hours and gets sleep whenever he can? Courtesy is just that: remembering that there are other people in this world besides yourself and thinking of them.”

Next year Military with PTSD will be having these signs made to give out free to any veteran or family that would like one to display. If you would like to donate to help us with the cost of the signs and shipping please feel free too.

If you are a company that would like to donate some signs please send us an email at militarywithptsd@gmail.com

Thank you Jon for raising awareness for PTSD and veterans. You can also read about Jon and veterans and fireworks on the story covered by USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/nation/2014/07/02/ptsd-fireworks-4th-july-veterans/12024123/

veteransandfireworksCreative Commons License
Explosion of Kindness; “Combat veteran lives here. Please be courteous with fireworks” sign by Jon Dykes and Military with PTSD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.facebook.com/MilitarywithPTSD/photos/pb.121108197936675.-2207520000.1404754678./710434295670726/?type=1&theater.

 

Veterans and FireworksCreative Commons License
Explosion of Kindness; “Combat veteran lives here. Please be courteous with fireworks” sign by Jon Dykes and Military with PTSD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.facebook.com/MilitarywithPTSD/photos/pb.121108197936675.-2207520000.1404754678./710434295670726/?type=1&theater.