HARRISBURG, Pa. — Mike Tyler, an Army veteran who diagnosed himself with PTSD four years ago, is asking everyone to please respect his veteran status and forgo anything fun this Independence Day weekend.
Tyler, who served as a Quartermaster in the Army and once deployed to Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm, has a sign in his front yard asking neighbors to be courteous with their fireworks because a veteran with PTSD lives there.
"It's really important to me to push my PTSD in the 10 year old next door's face," said Tyler. "I mean, I never got hit with anything but Saddam was launching Scud missiles in our general direction. Every time I hear a firework go off I'm vaguely reminded of an event that's really insignificant in my life but that I refuse to let go of."
Tyler's neighborhood has shown overwhelming support for the former soldier.
"I'm happy to accommodate our veterans. We're big supporters of the troops. If that means we have to sit inside in silence to think about Independence Day, then that's what we'll do," said a neighbor. "Mostly because we don't have a choice since we'll look inconsiderate and ungrateful otherwise. But we love our soldiers!"
Other neighbors have taken a different meaning from Tyler's sign.
"I saw this sign that said be courteous with fireworks because there's a combat veteran," said one neighbor. "I wasn't sure what that meant, but when I lit up the massive Fireball 9000 next to his backyard, I said thank you for your service in a courteous tone. I hope that's it."
Tyler said he knows progress is being made in making the public aware of veteran issues but there is still a lot of work to be done.
"We've already killed everyone's fun on Memorial Day" said Tyler. "Now with these signs we've effectively neutralized the 4th of July. We're hoping to aim for Halloween this year, mostly by shaming children dressing up as soldiers for Stolen Valor."
Several veterans who served with Tyler said they have plans to support him on what they know will be a tough day.
"We've got a van loaded up with roman candles and we're going to do a couple of strafe runs on his house. We want him to remember all the fun we had together, like that time we flipped the porta-potty he was in. Mike loved us!" said his former squad mate. Tyler's grandfather George, a veteran of Iwo Jima with three purple hearts and a Navy Cross, provided many of the roman candles.