Veteran explains toll of illegal fireworks
Published on June 17, 2021
Don Maloy, a former U.S. Army Ranger and Green Beret who was deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan, provides a piercing explanation of how veterans are affected by fireworks in a new Lakewood video that is part of the city’s effort to reduce the use of illegal fireworks.
“This time of year is interesting for a lot of veterans. A lot of my veterans have a difficult time finding ways to cope. They want to be a part of the family, festivities and holidays. But there’s also a piece of anxiety, an anxious moment that they know is coming up, and so it becomes challenging to find some of the coping skills they need to keep their nervous system online,” explains Maloy who is a readjustment counselor at the Denver Vet Center and clinical director of Warrior Now, a nonprofit helping veterans readjust to civilian life. “A firework at an unanticipated time, screams at an unanticipated time put them in a position where they are not able to come back to the here and now, get stuck in the past, and sometimes it can take a period of days to get that person to come back.”
The video, available on Lakewood8’s YouTube channel, is intended to provide residents an understanding of how their behavior can affect their neighbors who are veterans or have heightened sensitivities.
Because the Fourth of July signifies a time for neighbors and friends to enjoy each other’s company, Maloy recommends focusing on that atmosphere of inclusion and easygoing fun. He encourages people “to connect in a way that you can stand side by side with all of your neighbors,” rather than relying on traditions for just those who enjoy fireworks.
The weeks and weeks of residents using illegal fireworks also compounds the problems they cause. “When fireworks go off at any time of day from the beginning of the summer until after the Fourth of July, we’re missing the opportunity to create structure,” Maloy said. “Structure is so incredibly important (for veterans). Nobody can anticipate holding their breath for months on end.”