Monday, April 16, 2018

Past in Rear View Mirror

Nothing behind you can stop you
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
April 16, 2018

Yesterday we were driving to Melbourne so that I could film the motorcycle escort for the Vietnam Memorial Wall. My husband was driving, and as I looked into the rear view mirror, it seemed really odd that no one was behind us. There really wasn't many people ahead of us either, which is really strange. Anyway, I had the camera in my lap, so, naturally, I snapped away.

I thought about how there is nothing stopping us from where we want to go other than what we limits we make. Sure, we may not have enough money to do what we want now, but there was a time when we thought we couldn't even buy a house, and now, we're in our second one. 

There were a lot of times when stuff seemed hopeless, but we were not willing to settle where we were. Hope is what keeps us moving and improving.

Getting where you want to be, may take a little longer than you want it to, but if you don't give up, then you'll get there.

I wanted to be a writer. Actually growing up, I wanted to write horror books. I never thought I'd be writing about real horrors veterans live with for the last 3 plus decades, but it is the way it turned out to be.

I'm doing what I always wanted to do. The past got me to where I am but I decide where I go from here.

So do you! Everything in our lives gets us to where we are at this very moment. The bad stuff, as well as the good, were on the road we drove on.

The road ahead is filled with the same too but the journey is full of possibilities for better than now. You already know what is behind you. If you keep looking back, you may miss what is coming. 

Stop looking back because you are not there anymore. You survived whatever smacked PTSD into you. Like a car accident, you probably didn't see it coming at you. No one stays where it happened. They get help, move on and take care of whatever they need to do. You can do the same! That thing is over, but the leftover is only in control if you let it be.

Maybe you always wanted to be in the military and now you are not. What else can you do with your life to help other people? Think about it. I may not be making a living doing it, but you can do it in your spare time. I do this after work and weekends. It makes me happier during the week when I have to do something else.

Maybe you had other dreams. Things that were important to you? Then do them! Do what you enjoy and stop spending so much time feeling miserable. I don't know who told you that this is the best you get, but that is not the truth. 

This is what you accept it to be instead of what you expected it to become.

How about taking that tiny step of doing something looking forward and see where it takes you. All you have to lose is what has been keeping you trapped.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

American Combat Club ready to kick the crap out of you.

Fight to take your life back
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
April 14, 2018

(editors note: filming escort of the Vietnam Memorial Wall tomorrow, so putting these up today instead of tomorrow. It is still the Sunday Morning Empowerment Zone, but just a day early. If that bothers you, watch these tomorrow.)

The road sign is "Hope Road" and nearby they are working on the roads around it, clearly marked by "Construction Entrance." Would be nice if all of us saw the signs like that.

Finding a way to hope is always a process of constructing the way to get there. Feed positive thoughts into it and you'll get there a lot faster. You need help to kick the crap out of you so there is room for good stuff to get in.
My buddy Jonnie has been going to the American Combat Club in Downtown Orlando. His VA therapist recommended them because they are giving three months of free classes to veterans battling to heal. Besides, he enjoys the fact he can punch stuff without getting into trouble.

(Was in this video but YouTube pulled it.)

They put it back up.
“MERCILESS” MITCH MCELROY, one of the trainers is in this video.
Mitch is a second degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu under BJJ World Champion Helio “Soneca” Moreira. Mitch has also trained extensively in Western Boxing, Muay Thai Kickboxing, and Wrestling. He holds various BJJ and Submission Grappling titles and has been a professional MMA fighter since 2005.

This is veteran Brian Watts and one of my favorite parts of this video is when he says "stop being your own worst enemy." 

You have to be participating in your own life instead of just settling for the way it is now. If you keep telling yourself this is as good as you'll get out of it, then you proved yourself right. Not very smart, but hey, if you think suffering and feeling sorry for yourself is all you're worth, than whatever you did was just slapped in the face. 

You are worth so much more than just sitting back, suffering instead of fighting to take your life back from PTSD. It didn't win the first time. Why let it win now instead of kicking the crap out of it?

Stop clogging your engine!

Your brain is your engine
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
April 14, 2018

The Carpenters "Song Rainy Days And Mondays" talks about feeling down. I don't know about you, but at work I changed Monday to "Moanday" since that is what most of us do.  Usually we turn it around, make a joke, and then get over the fact we have a long week ahead until another short time off.

Another part of the song is "talking to myself" which is something most of us do a lot more often than we want to admit. There are things we tell ourselves all the time, yet sometimes it is good thought, other times, terrible ones. It is really great that as long as you hold you thoughts, no one will ever judge what you think. The problem is, they also do not know how you feel.

What are you saying to yourself? Do you tell yourself you are a survivor or do you wonder why you lived? Do you tell yourself that what you tried to do was something wonderful, or do you tell yourself you do not deserve to be alive?

The expression "you are your own worst enemy" is because all too often we tell ourselves that we're terrible and then we manage to prove it. When you have PTSD, it is worse because at the same time you need the people closest to you, you push them away.

Don't you think it may be time to stop putting negative thoughts into your brain and clear out all the crap you've been putting into it?

Think of your brain like the engine of  your car.

Your Mechanic explains how your engine can get clogged.
"Fuel injectors deliver fuel into the cylinder for combustion. Clogged fuel injectors can be caused by debris or impurities in the fuel. Fuel injectors are responsible for getting fuel into the engine. ... The fuel is then ignited and the engine keeps on moving."

All the negative thoughts you put into the thing that drives you stops it from moving in the right direction. It doesn't matter how strong your body is if you don't have fuel to power it. It doesn't matter how smart you are if you're stupid enough to let the impurities invade your brain.

Doubt, fear, anger, paranoia, hatred of others and hating what you believe you turned into, leave little room for all the good stuff to get in.

You stay stuck. If it goes on too long, then you end up with a broken engine that could have been powering healing.

When social media decided that talking about veterans committing suicide was a hot topic, they managed to add all the bad outcomes and none of the good. It is like using the wrong grade of gas to power your ride.

If your car requires premium gas, using premium will allow you to optimize your car’s power. You will not achieve the advertised horsepower on a vehicle that requires premium unless you use premium, although most consumers will not even notice the change in power when switching from premium to regular. True Car
You are not "most consumers" when it comes to dealing with trauma. You not only faced what most of us do, you decided to risk your life when others were in danger. You need premium fuel to help you get from where you are to where you need to be.

Thinking about how having PTSD means you were too weak to take it, feeds the stigma idiots put there. Shut out that thought because it is nothing more than a speed bump to your healing.

It took a lot of strength to enter into the service you chose to do. You had to be mentally and physically tough to make it through training. You had to be even tougher to be ready to do your job and even stronger to do it day after day.

Today is the day for you to lift your hood and take a look inside. Check your engine to see what your owners manual calls for. If you are not taking care of your mind (engine) your body and your spirit, then you are turning in your ride into something worth scrapping. Time to restore the damage done so you can go down every road until you get the antique plate you'll be proud of!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Battle won by more than my love could give

More than my love could give
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
April 8, 2018

"Combat should never be easier than coming home to you!" Kathie Costos

For The Love of Jack, His War My Battle originally published in 2003 because I tried to warn people about what was coming into their lives. PTSD! It was republished in 2013 because too many thought their love alone would be able to heal them. 

Love has to be strong enough to do whatever it takes to help them heal! Stop making excuses for what you fail to do. We lose more after combat than we do during it. Wars end and they come home but that battle lasts a lifetime! We have to be trained to win it for them!

The battle to save the lives of combat veterans is not lost and it is not new. 18 veterans and more than one active duty service member take their own lives each day. More attempt it. Kathie Costos is not just a Chaplain helping veterans and their families, not just a researcher, she lives with it everyday. Combat came home with her Vietnam veteran husband and they have been married for 28 years.She remembers what it was like to feel lost and alone.Everything you read in the news today about PTSD is in this book originally published in 2002 to serve as a guide to healing as well as a warning of what was coming for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
 I did not set out to do this work for all these years. All I wanted to do was help my husband see himself through my eyes. To see all the qualities I saw so strongly in him, that I decided I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.

Once I knew what PTSD was, I knew my love alone was not enough to help him. It never is, but if you love them enough, then you have to do whatever it takes to fight this battle when they come home to you.

You have the tools but you need to learn how they work or you'll stay stuck in the ditch of despair.

When you want to go someplace you have never been before, you get directions on how to get there. Think of this that way. This is a road map of getting around road hazards so you can find short cuts to get there.

It took a lot of years for me to be able to do this, but just as cell phones replaced road maps, getting where you want to go doesn't have to be done the old way. It just started by older people who cleared the road!
Kathie Costos DiCesare
Published on Apr 8, 2018
Why is combat less dangerous than coming home to us? That is the question I have been asking for over 3 decades. How is it they train to do their jobs, but we do not train to fight for them when they come home to us? They do their jobs. Why aren't we doing our jobs for members of our own family? If you ran out of excuses but did not run out of love, listen to someone who have been in this fight and won!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The detail of redemption

Getting the demon out
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
April 1, 2018
You have this great vehicle and take pride in it. You make sure it is clean. You even go to have the body detailed, so it sparkles in the sunlight. If you do not take care of the parts that power it, then it will sit there and rust. The tires will go flat and you'll cover it, ashamed of what you let happen to it.

What about the vehicle the carries everything that powers you?

That wonderful spirit inside of you needs detail work too. After all, that spirit is what caused you to want to be of service to others. It is what enabled you to train to do it. Endure all the hardships that came with that job. It gave you the courage to rush toward what you knew could end your life. It is also what can help you heal your life.

How is it that you can find it so easy to believe that you were meant to do your job saving lives, yet do not believe you are worthy of saving your own? PTSD is fueled by the acid of doubt. It eats away at everything that is good within you.

The devil is in that detail. The demons are in control of every negative thought you have and they enjoy causing you pain.

You went to bed one night filled with hope long ago. So long ago, you cannot remember what it felt like. The sense of being wrong believing in the power within you became stronger. Now, you are not sure of who you are anymore.

It is time to see the miracle of redemption and the see that everything you need to heal is within your body. Time to work on that.

Today is Easter for Christians around the world. Well, most Christians. I am Greek Orthodox and our Easter is next week. Long story but go here for why that is. It is the day that the promise of redemption was fulfilled and doubt died. All those who believed Jesus was the Son of God knew all He came to teach and do, were achieved. 

Those people included a Roman Centurion who did not need to see Jesus walking around after He was taken down from the Cross. He already knew what He heard was true.

Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant
5 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 
6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”

7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.

9 For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!

11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.
Matthew 8:5-13 New King James Version (NKJV)
Now, imagine what it was like during the time when people thought Jesus had lied to them. That He was not who He said he was. Think of how they misjudged Him. Then think about how happy they were to have been proven wrong about Him!

There is only one thing to stop you from being forgiven and that is you!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

No one can replace your engine but you can repair it!

PTSD: What is wrong does not mean you are not strong!
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
March 25, 2018

My buddy Murray is one hell of a strong dog. He is as tough as they come and not much bothers him. (Well, aside from a couple of TV commercials making him freak out, or anyone near our house.) He loves people (as long as he is outside with them.)

We have a routine when I get home from work. I dump my purse and shoes just inside of the bedroom doorway and jumps on the sofa for his petting. First behind the ears and then he'll roll over for a belly rub. Wednesday when I rubbed behind his ears, he winced. Trying to figure out what was wrong, I did it again, and that time he almost cried.

I took him to the Vets and sure enough, he has a massive double ear infection. It must have been there for a while as his body was trying to fight it off.  

The fact he has an infection, does not mean he is any less strong, or brave. It means something hit him and tried to defeat him. With the right medicine and treatment, he'll be fine soon.

So will you! PTSD hit you! It does not mean you are not brave, or strong, or any less resilient than before. It means all the stuff you went through, your whole body was trying to fight off. There comes a time when it just can't fight anymore without help.

If you do nothing, it gets worse. As time goes on, the infection spreads out and claims more of your life. It hits every part of you and then spreads out to anyone who cares about you.

If you don't let them know something is wrong, then they have no way of knowing you need help. They end up thinking whatever pops into their own minds while trying to make sense of the change in you.

Stop wincing and start talking. Let them know you are fighting something off and then get the right help to heal.

Your car has a warning light when there is something wrong. Well, your warning light has been flashing for a long time. If you want to be able to go further instead of getting stuck, PAY ATTENTION TO IT! No one can replace your engine but you can repair it!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Don't take your life, take it back

This is from 4 years ago today!

Don't take your life, take it back
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 22, 2014

The Department of Veterans Affairs puts it this way
After a trauma or life-threatening event, it is common to have reactions such as upsetting memories of the event, increased jumpiness, or trouble sleeping. If these reactions do not go away or if they get worse, you may have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Sometimes you may feel like a victim but you just didn't notice that you are a survivor. You are not weak. You were so strong that you were willing to risk your life for your friends and that came from the strength within you.

PTSD means you survived an event that was so traumatic your life was on the line. Anyone can change after that. When it is caused by combat, it means it wasn't just your life on the line but the lives of your friends as well.

While the events changed you, that does not mean you cannot change again. It doesn't mean you are stuck feeling lousy inside. You are not condemned to suffer, feeling sad, angry, bitter or hopeless. Help is out there the same way you were there to help your buddies survive combat.

Don't even think about taking your own life now when you can take your life back!

Every part of a warfighter went. Your body was conditioned to react to stressful situations. Your mind was trained to react in a new way. Your spirit was pushed and often crushed by what you had to see and do. Every part of you changed because of combat.

Life is full of challenges and changes because of them. Challenge yourself to discover that you have the ability to change again. Your buddies watched over you just as you watched over them when someone was trying to kill you. There is still an enemy to fight back home trying to claim victory over you and them. You used weapons in war and you need weapons now to fight PTSD. You were not alone in combat and you are not alone now.

Seek help for your mind even if that means medication. If the medication doesn't work or you are having problems with it, talk to your doctors so that they can change them until they find the right ones for you.

Seek help to teach your body how to live calmly again. It had to be trained to push on and now it needs to be trained to relax again.

Seek help to heal your spirit. After all you went through it is often hard to feel the good emotions because the bad ones are so strong. All that was good inside of you before is still in there.

PTSD can be defeated and you can take your life back.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

PTSD Service Stuff Stop Sign

Stop stuffing what your service does to you
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
March 20, 2018

If you made it your job to serve others, time to deal with it instead of stuffing it.

The only way to prevent PTSD is to stop all wars, crimes, fires, natural disasters and accidents. Think about that for a second. 

Now think about how you decided to make it your job...willingly putting your life on the line because all those things happen to people you don't even know.

Sure, you can understand when one of us has just been through something horrible and dealing with a lot. Why can't you understand when one of your own, or you, has to deal with a lot more because you face more of those times that could kill you?

While it may be difficult for the survivors, it is a lot hard for those we count on to help us become a survivor instead of victims.

Service members (including National Guard and Reservists) law enforcement, firefighters and emergency responders, face the same things the rest of us deal with but piled on top of that "everything else" are all the times you put your lives on the line. Even when you are not in an active situation, you are waiting for the next time. After all, that is what you get paid to do. Isn't it?

What you cannot forget, you stuff it to be able to just get on with your time off the job. The problem is, there is really no time you are totally off the job. You know when you are not on duty, someone else is.

It is what you decided to do with your life. It is what you trained to do. Did they tell you that you would no longer be human? Did they tell you that you were supposed to stop feeling?

Screw that! If you didn't feel anymore, then you wouldn't care anymore and you wouldn't want to do the job that could very well cost you your life!

You had to care deeply about life, or you wouldn't risk yours. That leaves a huge question. Then why don't you care enough about your own life to ask for help when you need it?

PTSD hit 1-out-of-3 Vietnam veterans. Hit 1-out-of-5 OEF and OIF veterans.

Police officers, according to Psychology Today article
There are approximately 900,000 sworn officers in the United States. According to some studies –19% of them may have PTSD. Other studies suggest that approximately 34% suffer symptoms associated with PTSD but do not meet the standards for the full diagnosis.
USA Today did a great report on combat veterans joining the police force afterwards.

  • Veterans who work as police are more vulnerable to self-destructive behavior  — alcohol abuse, drug use and, like Thomas, attempted suicide.
  • Hiring preferences for former service members that tend to benefit whites disproportionately make it harder to build police forces that reflect and understand diverse communities, some police leaders say.
  • Most  law enforcement agencies, because of factors including a culture of machismo and a number of legal restraints, do little or no mental health screening for officers who have returned from military deployment, and they provide little in the way of treatment.
Ok, so now you understand that most of you stuff things instead of actively dealing with them and taking back lives. Now maybe you understand if you happen to be one of them, or one who never went to war, but put your life on the line all the same.

The truth is, suicide is hitting more veterans, police officers, firefighters and emergency responders. There comes a time when you start to see the signs that you should stop trying to stuff it and start doing something beyond getting numb or doing whatever it is that "takes you mind" off what is going on with you. Maybe it is time to fight back?

Maybe instead of accepting the fact you are willing to risk your life for strangers, you accept the fact that you need to start trusting the same people you risked your life with and let them know you need some help.

They would die for you, just as you would die for them. Do you really think they won't take the time to listen to you?

One more thing to consider is, there is nothing weak about someone like you. Actually, it requires you to have a deeper-stronger emotional core than the average citizen. It is also why you got hit harder than others did.

Ready to stop stuffing and start healing?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

PTSD Patrol Empowerment Zone: Hope is contagious

"What is behind you, is not as strong as who is beside you."
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
March 18, 2018

Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day.

"The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."

Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britain and was reunited with his family. (from
Many do not understand that the day they say everyone becomes Irish, is a celebration of a victory. Patrick defeated doubt. He escaped his captors and went on to greatness.

You can escape PTSD holding you as a prisoner by defeating doubt too. Stop telling yourself that this life you are living is all you get. Stop telling yourself that getting numb is coping with PTSD. 

You defeated the thing that sent PTSD into you. Why let it win now?

I love this memorial because it shows two soldier side-by-side, walking forward, ready to face the enemy.

That is the way you fight PTSD. Side-by-side. It is one of the biggest things discovered in the done to defeat this. Peer-support works better than anything else. 

If you refuse the other help available, at least do this. Go and spend time with other veterans. Sooner or later you'll discover how much you do have in common with them.

Make your healing even better by going to the VA for mental health help. Considering that everything learned about what trauma does, started by researching Vietnam veterans, they know the difference between trauma and other illnesses. 

The only way to get PTSD is being a survivor of something that happened to you. Yes, it hits you!

You can still make a difference in this world by doing whatever you have to do to fight PTSD. Then you can go stand by the side of another veteran who needs to be shown the way. Think of it this way, healing is a something that doesn't stop, because as you help others, you heal even more!

Hope is contagious!
If I look different in these videos it is because I went off my meds for my back. Every once in a while, I try to give my body a break and stop them for a while. So, yes, I was in a lot of pain and it shows. 

Physical pain shows and so does the pain you feel everyday with PTSD. No matter how many smiles you show to the world, take a look at your eyes in the mirror. You can see it. The good news is, you can put back the sparkle you used to have when you stop letting PTSD win.

PTSD Patrol Sunday Empowerment Zone
Yesterday I went out to the Vietnam veteran memorial across from Lake Baldwin VA. I love it out there. There is a memorial with two soldiers, side by side, with weapons raised as they walk forward. That image is exactly what I've been trying to say. You don't fight in combat alone and you can't fight to heal alone.

PTSD Patrol Take Life Back

PTSD Patrol Making a Difference

Saturday, March 17, 2018

PTSD Patrol: Get in and drive your life

Change what drives you
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos 
March 17, 2018

When I was explaining what PTSD Patrol was about to a co-worker, it dawned on me that I never really explained it here.

You may be wondering why it is all related to vehicles. Simply really, everyone understands it no matter what form of transportation it is.

Sometimes we are a passenger. That is what our childhood is like. Our parents are the drivers. They are in control. They decide where we go and how fast we get there.

Then we grow up, learn how to be in control of the wheel, speed and direction we go in. We get a little older and we own the thing, which is our lives. We own what we do with the lives our parents brought into the world.

The engine is our mind. The body of the vehicle is like ours. Everyone can understand you need to take care of your engine and the body of the vehicle. 

Each person picks a vehicle based on many choices. What they can afford and what they like. Sure, some invest the time in learning about the thing before they decide. Some will look for the best deal. No one usually buys it without taking it for a test drive first.

No matter what you get, how powerful it is, the thing won't do anything other than sit there without feeding it gas. 

So look at your life like a vehicle your soul is in. In this case, the gas you put in your tank, feeds your soul. Without hope, you run out of gas.

We are the ones who determine where we go from one moment to the next. Sure, we can get trapped in a traffic jam, sitting there, waiting for others to get out of our way. 

We can get lost trying to get where we want to go. 

We can get behind a driver moving too slowly or have to move out of the way of someone driving way too fast.

We have little control over what others do, but we do control what we do. Same thing with life.

It gets draining just hearing about the bad stuff. I know what that's like since I track all the news stories across the country and my frickin head explodes when I read about someone doing something talking about a number, but never seems to mention what that "something" is or why they didn't even bother to read the report.

So, that is why PTSD Patrol was started. It is about getting in and driving your own life away from the past. No, not forgetting it, but making peace with it. It is about empowerment and fueling your tank without getting too preachy.

Remember, while I am a Chaplain, I am far from the type you may be used to.

Oh, almost forgot. The picture I use is from a trip out to Nevada for a wedding and my daughter is driving. Go figure! She got to drive and I was in the back seat!

On Sunday mornings there are videos going up about what is hopeful and telling you things someone should have mentioned a very long time ago. You can heal and your life can get a hell of a lot better. 

No more excuses. Stop being comfortably numb!

Past in Rear View Mirror

Nothing behind you can stop you PTSD Patrol Kathie Costos April 16, 2018 Yesterday we were driving to Melbourne so that I could f...