Combat Stress offers advice to veterans on dealing with fireworks

Bonfire night can be an especially difficult time for many combat veterans with mental health issues, with the loud bangs, bright lights and strong smells from fireworks causing serious anguish. Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health, is offering tips to help former servicemen and women and their families cope with the sudden noises and flashes associated with fireworks. The tips are:

  • Plan your evening
  • Identify your triggers
  • Breathe
  • Stay grounded
  • It’s good to talk

The tips have been compiled by the Combat Stress clinical team and you can find further details on each tip, including some helpful videos from Joint Head of Psychological Therapies Dr Elaine Johnston, on our website and social media channels.

Sue Freeth, Chief Executive at Combat Stress, said “The noise of fireworks around Bonfire Night or other celebrations such as New Year can be difficult to deal with for veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. The tips from our clinical team can help those who struggle to cope with the sudden noises and crowds of fireworks parties and allow veterans and their families to enjoy a traditional Bonfire Night.

“The noise, lights and smells of fireworks can be similar to those of gunfire, but it is important to remember they are different. By focussing on the differences, veterans can learn to tolerate fireworks. Preparation is very important to manage anxieties during the fireworks season and we hope that our expert tips will help veterans feel less worried.”

The Combat Stress 24-hour Helpline provides free confidential advice and support. Veterans and their loved ones can call 0800 138 1619, text 07537 404 719 or visit to find out more.

For more information or to request an interview please contact:

Jonathan Paxton, PR and Communications Officer, on 01372 587061


Notes to editors:

Combat Stress is the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health.

For almost a century we’ve helped former servicemen and women deal with trauma-related mental health issues like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Each year we see an average of 2,000 referrals. Demand for our services continues to grow – in the last ten years we’ve a 97% increase in referrals.

On average it takes 13 years after leaving the military for veterans to contact Combat Stress for help, by which time their condition is often highly complex. However, veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts are coming to Combat Stress much sooner (three and four years respectively).

To help veterans rebuild their lives, we provide a range of free services:

  • Short-stay clinical treatment at our treatment centres in Ayrshire and Surrey
  • A specialist Intensive Treatment Programme – delivered at our treatment centres
  • Occupational therapy – delivered at our treatment centres and in the community, we use meaningful and creative activity to encourage hope, wellbeing and recovery
  • Outpatients – assessment by psychiatrists and psychologists – at our treatment centres and in the community – enables us to diagnose, define and deliver the treatment veterans require
  • Community Teams – providing treatment and practical support to veterans. Last year our regional community teams undertook almost 5,400 face-to-face appointments
  • Peer Support Service – Led by veterans for veterans, it’s the first UK-wide service of its kind for those with mental health problems. The service enables them to share their experiences, receive support and socialise with others with similar experiences.
  • Substance Misuse Case Management Service – helping veterans to access the services for their drug and alcohol problems so their mental health issues can be addressed
  • We have a 24-hour Helpline available to veterans and their families (0800 138 1619) and to serving personnel and their families (0800 323 4444)


Useful links

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On Twitter: @CombatStress

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Combat Stress, Registered Charity 206002; Registered Charity in Scotland SC038828; Company Ltd by guarantee: 256353.

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