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Don’t forget our Veterans during firework celebrations

Bonfire night is a staple of the Autumn calendar in the UK with many wrapping up warm and celebrating among friends and family with toffee apples, sparklers and fireworks. Stoll, one of the UK’s oldest Veterans’ charities, is urging people to be mindful of the significant stress that loud noises, such as fireworks, can cause at this time of year.

Ed Tytherleigh, Chief Executive at Stoll, said:  “For some ex-Servicemen and women, conflict goes on way beyond the battlefield. Many of the Veterans we work with here at Stoll are diagnosed with a mental health condition once they leave the Armed Forces, such as anxiety, depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  For these Veterans everyday sounds like police sirens or, at this time of year, fireworks going off can trigger vivid memories of a combat situation and stressful reminders of perhaps being in a life-threatening situation surrounded by helicopters, gunfire or explosions.”

Veteran Shaun Johnson, who served in the Royal Artillery for eleven years, including time in Northern Ireland during the height of the troubles, explains: “When you leave the military, it doesn’t always mean that your mind switches off. I’ve had a few instances where seemingly everyday noises – a car back-firing and the trap-door in the pub banging shut – have caused me to drop to the floor. That’s why I’m supporting Stoll to help spread this message about fireworks.”

Ed Tytherleigh concluded: “We of course want people to enjoy themselves at this time of year, but are urging people to be mindful of not just their pets but also our Veterans.  Don’t just let off fireworks in your garden; choose an official fireworks display and, if you know any Veterans either personally or in your community, keep in touch to make sure they’re ok.”

Any Veterans seeking support can contact the free 24-hour Veterans Gateway helpline on 0808 802 1212.