Vietnam Veteran and retired psychologist talk PTSD during July 4 - FOX Carolina 21

Vietnam Veteran and retired psychologist talk PTSD during July 4th celebrations

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INMAN, SC (FOX Carolina) -

On the Fourth of July, we celebrate our freedom. 

Combat veterans like Dr. Craig Burnette are just one of the many men and women who served, allowing civilians to watch those sparks covering the night sky. 

"I saw courage and bravery and service to one another. Men who would lay down their lives and did lay down their lives for one another, it was just unparalleled. I'm not sure there's another human experience quite like it."

Burnette served in combat during the Vietnam war. 

"I wasn't back physically, but mentally I was back in the jungle in its own way looking for what's next. That's why it doesn't surprise me around the Fourth of July when veterans tell me they're uncomfortable with the sounds of the explosions."

He understands how a certain smell, "the smell of diesel fuel will trigger certain thoughts in my mind," he said. Or how the sound of fireworks can bring it all back.

"The nightmares, the hypervigilance the numbing, I couldn't go on a hike in the United States of America without looking for ambush sites."

He became a psychologist and has been helping veterans for four decades try and move past post traumatic stress disorder.

"A lot of the Vietnam veterans ended up on my case load and on clinical staff. I was the only Vietnam veteran on staff and it was kind of a no-brainer to figure out 'well they're talking to Craig because he truly understands where we're coming from'."

He explained you never know who is standing right next to you. Before lighting fireworks be sure to check in with neighbors to see if a veteran lives in the home.

"You don't know who is standing right beside you, and although we honor them and thank them for their service let's also be sensitive to what is happening with them that you may never see."

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