Fourth of July: A time for celebration — and consideration for veterans and military families

Vicky Perkins of Blue Star Families. – Blue Star Families

As the Fourth of July approaches, communities gather to celebrate, reflect and express gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy. This holiday is especially poignant for those who have served to protect these freedoms.

However, while fireworks and other festivities serve as the backdrop for this celebration of our nation’s independence, they can also be a source of distress for members of the military community.

This is a great time to consider the military and veteran families in our communities and how we can support them.

Fireworks can be triggering for several reasons.

The loud noises and sudden flashes can be reminiscent of combat experiences, leading to trauma responses that can range from mild discomfort to severe panic attacks. Additionally, large crowds and the accompanying chaos — such as screaming and unexpected movements — can be deeply unsettling.

For many combat veterans, these environments can mimic the unpredictability and intensity of combat zones, exacerbating their stress and anxiety. Such triggers can manifest in various ways, including anxiety, flashbacks and hypervigilance.


Making the transition from the military into the civilian world is not easy for many military families.

In fact, research shows that disconnection from the community can negatively affect their overall well-being. Blue Star Families, which is devoted to strengthening military families through various programs and support networks, regularly conducts research to highlight the mental health needs of military families through its annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey.

According to the 2023 survey results, the transition from the military to civilian life is described as “difficult” or “very difficult” by 63% of non-retired veterans and 52% of retired veterans.

The lack of connection to the events in their environment can exacerbate the negative impact of things such as fireworks and sudden increases in local traffic, perpetuating feelings of isolation and lack of support.

The impact of these triggers is not limited to the service members and veterans.

It can cause instability and discomfort throughout the household, affecting spouses, children and other family members.


Here are some ways communities can consider military families during Fourth of July celebrations:

  • Obey local curfews for fireworks: This includes not only time curfews, but designated days for fireworks.
  • Educate yourself and the community: Understand the effects of fireworks on military families in an informed way that supports rather than assumes.
  • Inform military families: Encourage your city’s fireworks coordinators to utilize local news, mailers and social media to communicate planned fireworks ceremonies, locations and times, giving families time to prepare.
  • Encourage game plans: Suggest military families reach out to their communities to find out where and when fireworks displays will occur, allowing them to plan accordingly.


Blue Star Families is currently running the “Combat the Silence” campaign, a suicide prevention and mental health initiative designed to empower military families and peers to recognize and respond to a mental health crisis through Blue Star Support Circles. Find out more about the Combat the Silence program and how to join a Blue Star Support Circle so that you can be empowered with the tools and resources needed to intervene before a crisis occurs here.

In case of immediate crisis, support is available by calling or texting 988 (press 1 for the Veteran Crisis Line) or via chat at

For ongoing community support and resources, register at

Blue Star Families is the nation’s largest chapter-based military and veteran family support organization. Its research-driven approach builds strong communities with a focus on human-centered design and innovative solutions. Since its founding in 2009, BSF has delivered more than $200 million in benefits and impacts more than 1.5 million people annually. For more information, go to

Vicky Perkins is the senior director of impact programs at Blue Star Families.