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Veterans Group Opposes Fireworks Expansion in Iowa

While many Iowans support expanding sale and use of fireworks in the state, one veterans group opposes the move. (morguefile.com/duboix)
While many Iowans support expanding sale and use of fireworks in the state, one veterans group opposes the move. (morguefile.com/duboix)
February 8, 2016

FAIRFIELD, Iowa - Senate File 508 would allow Iowa residents to possess and use fireworks, such as firecrackers and Roman candles. Currently, only novelty items such as sparklers are legal in the state.

The bill passed a Senate committee last week, but one group says the effort poses a threat to Iowa's veterans and others who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Bob Krause is president of the Veterans National Recovery Center, a group that focuses on the health of returning veterans.

"They can be quite debilitating," he says. "Some PTSD veterans that I know, if they hear a loud retort, like a muffler backfiring or something like that, they will actually fall into a fetal position."

He says the chance of getting PTSD from the first combat-zone experience is now between 20 and 25 percent, but that likelihood jumps with the second and third combat tours to between 90 and 95 percent.

Krause notes the problem is extensive, and involves more than just combat veterans.

"We've got 5,000 veterans in Iowa that have PTSD just from the wars that have occurred since 9/11, not counting our Vietnam veterans," he says. "There's a lot of them, and that doesn't even include the police and fire and other people that have been around gunfire."

He says PTSD is a chronic excitement of the amygdala, the "fight or flight" center of the brain. If the condition lasts too long, it can cause scarring and a permanent short circuiting of the brain.

Krause says expanding sale and use of fireworks in Iowa means those suffering from PTSD will have to be in a heightened state of paranoia year-round, not just around the Independence Day holiday.

"We don't need that," says Krause. "These veterans are being ignored enough. It's like kicking a guy in a wheelchair. You just don't want to do that, even if it's unintentional, and that's kind of what you're doing with this bill."

Both the Iowa House and Senate passed separate bills expanding fireworks in Iowa last session, but the chambers could not agree on a single version to send to the governor for signature.

Jeff Stein, Public News Service - IA