Veteran speaks on raising awareness for soldiers struggling with PTSD

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Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 5:46 PM CDT
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NEWBURGH, Ind. (WFIE) - For many, Independence Day isn’t complete without a fireworks display, but for others, they say it can trigger trauma.

“Explosives all around, fireworks and that sort of stuff, really sends people back to where they were in Vietnam,” says Veterans for Peace president Gary May.

May fought in Vietnam, and also works with veterans with post traumatic stress disorder.

As an infantry soldier, Gary’s life changed forever on the battlefield.

“A couple of months after I was in country, I had the fortune to step on a landmine, and that resulted in amputation of both of my legs,” May said. “That started a whole new spin on the world for me at that point.”

May returned home in November of 1968. His PTSD was not triggered by explosives, it was dictated by the last action before the incident.

“The final action that caused me to lose my legs was a footstep that I took,” May said.

May finds himself watching the path he walks from his wheelchair. His adjustment when he came home was anything but easy.

“I recognized slowly that I did have value, that I did have a future,” May said. “I did have things that I could do that could make a difference in my life, and make a difference in the lives of others.”

May says he does this by raising awareness and working with veterans who return home from war. This Independence Day, he stresses situational awareness.

“Be considerate of other people and recognize that there are veterans in the environment, some of whom would be quite sensitive to [fireworks],” May said.

If you or someone you know is in need of help with PTSD, you can find the Veterans for Peace website here.

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