Combat veterans ask neighbors to ‘be courteous’ with fireworks

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DENVER -- Fourth of July fireworks can be spectacular, but for many combat veterans, they can also be scary.

The noise from fireworks can trigger flashbacks and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, but a nonprofit agency is helping raise awareness.

Military with PTSD is a group out of Indiana that began making and distributing free yard signs to vets across the country who struggle with fireworks. The red, white and blue signs simply say, "Combat Veteran Lives Here. Please Be Courteous with Fireworks."

Fourth of July fireworks are no longer fun for Sean Azzariti.

"I just want to enjoy the day and get it over with," he said.

Azzariti has battled PTSD since returning from two tours in Iraq in 2006. Azzariti was chosen as the first man to buy recreational marijuana in Colorado last year because of how it helps him cope with the symptoms of PTSD. Still, he says Fourth of July fireworks can be traumatizing.

"It just encompasses you and makes it to where you're like, 'Oh, my god I'm back in that unsafe war zone where I could die,'" Azzariti said. "It takes a lot to come back from that sometimes."

Military with PTSD started the yard sign campaign to help vets like Azzariti. The group sends the signs to vets who request them free of charge in hopes of spreading awareness.

"It's a great, open way to have a communication and just say, 'Hey, look, there's a combat veteran living here, you know just be courteous,'" Azzariti said. "I think it's amazing and I really wish I saw more of it happening around Denver."

Though the signs are very popular, the nonprofit is also getting flooded with requests. There is a wait list for the signs and many vets simply won't get one in time for the holiday.

That's where the FOX31 Problem Solvers came in. After receiving an email from Azzariti indicating he could benefit from a sign, FOX31 contacted AlphaGraphics. Within a few hours, the company printed a sign and owner Edward Rothschild hand-delivered it to Azzariti.

"It's the least we can do for the service you guys have provided," Rothschild said.

"I respect and love this so much that you're doing this," Azzariti said. "Like we were just discussing, it's bringing light to something that not a lot of people really think about. Especially on the Fourth of July."

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