First my disclaimer- Yes, I know that men and women can have PTSD. I’m writing this as the Dad being the combat Vet because many studies show that while both male and female Vets get PTSD, men tend to display more symptoms, while women tend to shut down and become depressed. Neither is a good thing. If you think you have PTSD, get help.
All of that being said, I wish this is what someone would have said to me when I was a kiddo, begging Dad to take me to the fireworks on Ft. Bragg and not understanding why he would either say no, or take me (and my little sis) and then sit in his truck for the whole show. “Daddy, you’re missing it!” we would shout, while he sat in the truck, eyes closed.
So I write this for a new generation of children of Combat Vets.
“Your Dad loves you. He wants you to be happy this 4th of July weekend. He also wants you to be safe, because you are so precious to him. There are going to be a lot of fun things to do this weekend- parties, cook outs, swimming, water fights, ball games and of course, fireworks. Have fun enjoying all of those things with your family and friends, but please understand that your dad might not want to participate in every event.
See, 4th of July is a little different for your Dad. It’s a big reminder of why he joined the Military. When he sees all of the ‘patriotic Americans’ and hears the Lee Greenwood songs, he might be thinking about some not so great memories. He might be thinking of war, the sacrifices his fellow Service Members made, and those that didn’t make it home to spend Fourth of July with their families. Or he might be doing his best NOT to think of those things, but its hard, with the aforementioned patriotic Americans and Lee Greenwood blasting from every station.
I know you want to see the fireworks, and hopefully, someone will take you to the show. Your dad might not want to go, because fireworks shows encompass a lot of things he is trying to avoid- large crowds, traffic, smoke, heat, constant noise, and the fireworks themselves, which equal loud booms and flashes of light. If your dad does take you, don’t be upset if he doesn’t want to watch the show. He might just be happier to sit in the car and listen to music.
Please remember that your dad has some issues and he is hopefully working on them. Overall, remember that he loves you and you can help by understanding his needs on this holiday weekend.
Happy 4th of July!”
Happy 4th of July, Dad. I am taking a page out of your books this year, and we will enjoy the fireworks from the comfort of our air conditioned living room. Front row seats and no traffic! Love you.