Army vet takes his life after July 4th fireworks trigger PTSD

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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) - On July 4th, Jon Kreft says he and his brother Mike were in a bar playing pool, when Mike, an Army Combat veteran, began hearing fireworks.

"I was walking behind him, and every time a firework would go off, he was covering his ears and he would jump and flinch," says Jon. "Then he just started crying and started running down the road."

He followed Mike home. He knew his brother's PTSD had been triggered by the fireworks. He was going to play music to soothe him.

"He went to the bedroom, and right when I was about to get the play button going, I look up, and he looks at me and says I love you."

The 27 year-old shot and killed himself.

Jon says Mike asked friends and family not to light fireworks on the 4th of July holiday, knowing it was one of his PTSD triggers. However, the message wasn't relayed to his unsuspecting neighbors.

"You do things that you don't want to do. You see things you don't want to see, that your brain's not ready for, and you bring it home with you", says Mike Randall, with Hopes and Dreams Riding Facility. He treats vets with PTSD.

Randall says when PTSD is triggered, loved ones should intervene, try to calm them, and call for help. His friends say while it was a daily struggle for Mike, the man they lovingly referred to as "spartan" lived each day to the fullest.

"I know that he wouldn't want us to be sad about it, because I know that he's in a better place, and I know there's a reason for everything that happens", says Jack Bradley.

Another friend, Scott Crawford, adds, "He would have lived life to the fullest and wouldn't let anyone bring him down. He would do what he wants to do."

A GoFundMe account has been set up for Mike Kreft's final expenses. You can find that page at gofundme.com/mike_kreft.

Mike's friends have arranged for a memorial at the VSU P.E. Complex at 10 am on Friday. The public is welcome to attend. The dress is casual.

If you'd like to learn how you can help veterans in your community, visit MakeTheConnection.net.

Veterans in crisis are encouraged to call the Veterans Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.