BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — Celebrating America on the 4th of July has always meant fireworks, but ironically the bombs bursting in the air are the furthest thing from a celebration for some of our nation’s veterans.
Don Preister knows this first hand, the Bellevue city councilman, a Vietnam war veteran himself, said fireworks can be triggering.
"It takes me back to those days," Preister said. "It doesn’t take much, a smell, the gun powder all of that brings me back into the combat zone."
Preister also knows he’s not alone and that for many of his fellow veterans talking about the struggles of PTSD is very difficult.
He teamed up with former city councilwoman and current gubernatorial candidate Sen. Carol Blood and Military with PTSD, a nonprofit that makes signs urging people to be courteous with fireworks for veterans to put in their yards during Independence Day. Each sign is free of charge.
Blood says she started the sign give away in Nebraska, making them available at the local farmer’s market in Bellevue.
"None of these veterans really want people to stop celebrating the 4th of July," Blood said. "What we want to do is find some gentle reminder."
Blood said hundreds of signs have been given out over the past five years. The goal is not just to spread awareness but also to start a conversation and connect more veterans to the community.
"We’re educating. We’re helping to sensitize," said Preister. "It’s also rewarding giving them out to veterans."
Priester and Blood said it's their hope the signs go a long way towards building stronger connections with veterans.
"This is just another nice way to show that we see them and we value their presence," Blood said.