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Veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress calls for ban on sale of noisy fireworks

Veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress is calling for a ban on the sale of noisy fireworks to the public.

Many former servicemen and women with mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder experience distress at this time of year with the sudden flashes and bangs of fireworks reminding them of war.

With restrictions around Covid-19 tightening, many public firework displays have been cancelled this year. Combat Stress fears that as a result there will be an increase in private firework displays in people’s gardens, meaning there will be no control over where and when noisy fireworks are let off. This could have a significant impact on those veterans with mental health problems. Organised events are better because veterans can plan for them.

Fireworks are on sale to the public from 15 October to 10 November, so veterans face a challenging month ahead having to contend with the distress caused by the fireworks and the grief of mourning fallen comrades at Armistice.

Catherine Kinane, Medical Director at Combat Stress, said:

“We see a higher rate of distress in veterans accessing our services at this time of year. Not only is this time of year challenging because of the grief surrounding Armistice, but the sound and sudden unexpected bangs of fireworks can be reminders of frontline combat where they were exposed to the horrors of war in service to this country.

“That’s why we want to see an end to the sale of noisy fireworks to the public and for shops to sell only silent ones. To run a noisy firework display should require a licence, although we’d welcome councils switching to quieter fireworks and laser light shows.

“Firework displays bring people together and create a lot of joy for spectators. In a year that’s been extremely challenging for the nation to cope with, we don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun but we urge the public to understand how distressing noisy fireworks can be for military veterans.”

Tips advising veterans on how to cope with fireworks are available on the Combat Stress website https://www.combatstress.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/fireworks-tips

Combat Stress’ free 24-hour Helpline is available to veterans and their families on 0800 138 1619.

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