Sunday, December 30, 2018

PTSD Patrol: When your ride is a pink scooter

Pink scooter fueled by love

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
December 30, 2018

Every once in a while, I am inspired beyond what words I can add to a topic. In one of those moods, where words just did not come, I searched some of my older videos. It came on a pink scooter. 

I was thinking about a lot of miracles that still happen and remembered the story of a homeless veteran. It is one of those stories that you think cannot be true. But it is. I know because I was at his funeral.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vietnam Vet Andrew Elmer Wright found a home as a homeless vet
A simple casket with an American flag for Vietnam Veteran Andrew Elmer Wright.

A simple bouquet of flowers was placed with a simple photo a church member snapped.
By all accounts, Andrew was a simple man with simple needs but what was evident today is that Andrew was anything but a "simple" man.

A few days ago I received an email from Chaplain Lyle Schmeiser, DAV Chapter 16, asking for people to attend a funeral for a homeless Vietnam veteran. After posting about funerals for the forgotten for many years across the country, I felt compelled to attend.

As I drove to the Carey Hand Colonial Funeral Home, I imagined an empty room knowing how few people would show up for a funeral like this. All the other homeless veteran stories flooded my thoughts and this, I thought, would be just one more of them.

When I arrived, I discovered the funeral home was paying for the funeral. Pastor Joel Reif, of First United Church of Christ asked them if they could help out to bury this veteran and they did. They put together a beautiful service with Honor Guard and a 21 gun salute by the VFW post.

I asked a man there what he knew about Andrew and his eyes filled. He smiled and then told me how Andrew wouldn't drink the water from the tap. He'd send this man for bottled water, always insisting on paying for it. When the water was on sale, he'd buy Andrew an extra case of water but Andrew was upset because the man didn't use the extra money for gas.

Then Pastor Joel filled in more of Andrew's life. Andrew got back from Vietnam, got married and had children. His wife passed away and Andrew remarried. For some reason the marriage didn't work out. Soon the state came to take his children away. Andrew did all he could to get his children back, but after years of trying, he gave up and lost hope.

A few years ago, after going to the church for help from the food pantry, for himself and his cats, Andrew lost what little he had left. The tent he was living in was bulldozed down in an attempt to clear out homeless people from Orlando. Nothing was left and he couldn't find his cats.

Andrew ended up talking to Pastor Joel after his bike was stolen again, he'd been beaten up and ended up sleeping on church grounds in the doorway. Pastor Joel offered him the shed in the back of the church to sleep in so that he wouldn't have to face more attacks.

The shed had electricity and they put in a TV set, a frying pan and a coffee maker. They wanted to give Andrew more but he said they had already given him enough.

Pastor Joel told of how Andrew gave him a Christmas card with some money in it one year. Pastor Joel didn't want to take money from someone with so little, but Andrew begged him to take it saying "Please, don't take this away from me" because it was all he had to give and it meant a lot to give it to the Pastor. Much like the widow with two cents gave all she had in the Bible, Andrew was truly grateful for what little he had been given from the church.

What was soon made clear is that Pastor Joel gave him even more than he imagined. Andrew took it on himself to be the church watchman. While services were going on after Andrew greeted the parishioners, he would travel around the parking lot to make sure the cars were safe. At night he made sure any guests of the church were equally watched over. Pastor Joel not only gave him a roof over his head and food, he gave him something to make him feel needed.

More and more people came to the service and there was a lot of weeping as Pastor Joel spoke. What was very clear this day is that Andrew was called a homeless veteran but he was not homeless. He found one at the church. He lost his family and his children, but he found a family at the church.

From what was said about Andrew, he was a Vietnam veteran with PTSD and he wanted no help from the VA. Too many of them feel the same way and they live on the streets, depending on the kindness of strangers to help them out.

Andrew wasn't one of the panhandlers we see in Orlando. He refused to beg for money and he wanted to work for whatever he was given. His health got worse but he still did what he could. Right up until March 16, 2010 when Andrew passed away, no matter what happened to him during his life, Andrew proved that this veteran was not hopeless, not helpless because he found the fulfillment of hope in the arms of strangers who took him in and he found help as he asked as well as gave.

The legacy of this homeless veteran is that he touched the lives of so many hearts and will never be forgotten.

Behind this church, in a tiny shed, Andew spent his last hours on this earth. Born in Riverside Park NJ on November 5, 1938 he returned to God on March 16, 2010.

John 14:2-3
In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Matthew 25

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,

36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

This video tells the rest of the story. If you want to believe again people can make a huge difference in the lives of others, watch it. If you want to believe that God is still interested in all of us, watch the video. 

Rev. Joel and this church touched me so much I had to do the post on what they did for Andrew. 

Because God tugged at them to help and tugged at me to get the story out, a Dad's love for his children was finally known.

First United Church of Christ proved that miracles can still happen. They took in a homeless Vietnam Veteran, gave him love and gave a family closure. His son was serving in the Marines when he found out what happened to his Dad. A simple casket with an American flag for Vietnam Veteran Andrew Elmer Wright.
So there you have it. How many lives were changed? Because a homeless veteran found a place where he could call home, and where he was loved. Children discovered why they were put up for adoption and that their Dad did not give up on finding them. All because people put #LoveInAction and created the miracle that grew.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Christmas Delivery

Christmas Delivery

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
December 22, 2018

This time of year it seems as if everyone is either doing the holiday or the Holy Day. Big difference when you think about it. The holiday is tied to buying stuff, eating stuff and having fun. The Holy Day is remembering why the day came to be in the first place.

The Christmas Delivery did not come on Christmas day but it is the day we celebrate the delivery arriving into the world.

The Christmas Delivery did not come on a jet, or in a grand way at all. This Delivery came on the back of a donkey, with Mary and Joseph. Oh, sure you know the rest of the story and the gifts that the Wisemen brought. But did you ever think of the rest of the story?

The birth of Jesus was not meant to be anything other than what it was. He came into this world to deliver a message, and then, deliver His life as payment for what sins He never committed, because we managed to do all of them.

There are so many other things to be said about what Jesus was, including, a homeless person depending on the kindness of strangers. But what He inspired, was clear even in war.

Radio-telephone operator Stephen Lovejoy was wounded in the open. Chaplain Capodanno ran through the withering fire, grabbed Lovejoy by the strap of his radio and dragged him to a hastily established perimeter near the top of the hill.

The chaplain immediately began attending to the dead and the dying, administering the Last Rites. Harton felt someone touch him. Father Capodanno spoke to him in a soft voice: “Stay calm, Marine, someone will be here to help. God is with us all this day.”

These Medal of Honor recipients were men of God

Vietnam Magazine
By: Ray Pezzoli Jr.
December 21, 2018
Vincent Capodanno leads field prayer services, Sept. 11, 1966 , during "Operation Fresno, for A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines (Reinforced), in Quang Ngai Province. (Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections)

Chaplains don’t usually come to mind when the words “combat soldier” are mentioned.

Yet 16 American chaplains lost their lives in the line of duty during the Vietnam War. Two of them, both Catholic priests, Navy Lt. Vincent Robert Capodanno and Army Maj. Charles Joseph Watters, posthumously received the Medal of Honor for their heroism and valor on the battlefield.

Father Capodanno, a man many Marines have called a saint, is now in fact a candidate for canonization. Capodanno was known to the troops as the “Grunt Padre.”

Marine veteran Ray Harton remembers meeting him in a base mess tent: “He was just like one of the Marines… . His voice was what set him off from the rest, soft-spoken yet gruff enough to get your attention. He prayed with us and let us know he was there.”

Retired Marine Col. Gerald H. Turley described Capodanno as “a humble person, obviously at peace with himself in a place where war was going on.”

read more here

For Christmas my wish for you is to discover the miracle that is inside of you, because while everyone else can be hit by PTSD from just one event, so could you as a human, but unlike the rest of us, you made it your mission in your life to do whatever it took to try to save others.

Your life is a gift that you were willing to sacrifice and it is time for you to see that gift is still there, under the pain you are carrying because of what you were willing to do for the sake of everyone else.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

PTSD Patrol: There is a fog that overcomes many veterans

Spark out of the darkness

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
December 16, 2018

Yesterday I attended a Wreath Laying ceremony at All Faiths Memorial Park. A large crowd gathered together on a rainy morning to remember veterans.

They did not know most of veterans, but they took their wreath, read the names their so they
would be remembered.

They were not all famous like Robert Miller, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for sacrificing his life to save others in Afghanistan. Some died many years after serving, yet each one mattered.

There is a fog that overcomes many veterans. When life back home gets hard, you may think that it is as hard as it can be. The fog prevents you from thinking about how hard it actually was to be in combat. This is not as bad as that, even though you are fighting a battle with the enemy of PTSD.

Back then, you had brothers and sisters fighting arm and arm with you. Now should not be different from back then. No battle is ever won alone in war. This battle can be won with help again from those who understand where you're been.

This is your life. You drive it. Isn't it time to change what is driving you? Do not let what you lost keep you in a fog, and then you can see what is waiting for you to find down the road.

Here is the video from the service.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The road to heal is real

Finding hope to take the trip

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
December 9, 2018

No matter how many different ways you can discover how to get to where you want to be, you will not look for them, unless you have hope that place exists. The road to heal is real! #CombatPTSD and #TakeBackYourLife

When I was going on a road trip, first I had to have the will to go, then get directions on how to get there from where I was. 

Back then, we went to the gas stations to get a road map. Not easy to read and really too large to hold it while sitting in a vehicle. Trying to refold it was nearly impossible!

AAA came out with TripTik planners. We'd go, tell them where we wanted get to, and they would plan out the entire trip. We'd flip the pages until we arrived. To get back home, we'd just flip the pages backwards.

Now we have GPS directions in our cars and on our cell phones. Makes getting where we want to go easier to find.

Where do you want to go? Sometimes find out how to get someplace is not your biggest problem. Sometimes, having the desire even think about changing where you are is the hardest thing to find.

When I was new on the road, it did not make much sense to look both ways before taking a right turn, because I assumed no one would be coming the other way.

That is, until I almost hit someone trying to cross in front of me. Then I understood there could always be something I am not seeing, because I did not look for it.

It is the same way with answers. First you need hope there is an answer to find for whatever you want to know, or change. If there is no hope, you will not look.

Hope is what gets us moving each morning. It causes us to open our eyes, but it is the desire to seek something better, that begins the search for what we hope for.
If you know there is a better road to take, then you will look for it. If you know that other people have been there, and can show you the way, you are not traveling alone.

When you are packing a lot of pain from PTSD, it can be disheartening to be reminded of all the other people who lost the battle. They lost because no one showed them the way to get on the right road, or even inspire them to seek it.

But if you think you are stuck where you are, here is a reminder that you were not chosen to be frozen when you survived the cause of PTSD. You defeated it and lived. 

#TakeBackYourLife from what was behind you, so you can move forward and heal.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

PTSD Patrol: Ending Heat, and Friction

Avoiding Engine Friction

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
December 2, 2018

When you neglect all the things that go into making your vehicle run properly, you get engine friction.

Heat and Friction: Primary Enemies of Car Engines
Engines, Heat, and Friction
“Friction, according to its encyclopedia description, is the force that opposes the relative motion or tendency of such motion of two surfaces in contact. When it comes to engines and automobiles, the term holds a deeper relevance to car performance.“

Heat and friction results from the rubbing of the many parts of an internal combustion engine. (your mind)

A modern internal combustion engine is comprised of dozens of moving parts. Without proper oiling, these parts run against each other with tremendous speed, creating friction which then leads to heat. (anger) This heat can wear the mechanical parts of an engine and lead to bad performance under the hood.

Worn parts due to friction cause havoc with gas mileage and emissions since the engine is pushed to work harder. Wear on the engine’s vehicle is a primary known cause of less efficient burning of fuel.
When the engine that drives everything in you is neglected, you get more friction in your life too.

If you understand the basic fact of PTSD, it takes some friction away. That is the fact that PTSD hit you and happened because you survived what the event tried to do to you. So why let it win now?

Friction happens when you think it is your fault, or you were too weak to "get over it" but PTSD hits harder when you have a strong emotional core.  Just like when you feel good stuff really strongly, you feel bad stuff more. So why think there is anything wrong with you now that sadness hit if you do not feel wrong when love lives strongly?

Friction happens when you surround yourself with people who reenforce the negative actions you take, like drinking, doing drugs or taking risks. It happens when they add to the terrible thoughts you are already thinking.

Stay away from anything or anyone telling you about veterans committing suicide with their pushups, walks, stunts and events you are invited you to because they tell you what a good time you'll have.

Get evaluated. Get treatment. Communicate and spend your time doing things that will be a benefit to your life. Stop letting other people suck the hope out of you.

Learn all you can about PTSD and know that you can heal. Life can get a lot better than it is right now if you put in as much effort healing as you have suffering.

"Can you imagine how I feel today?"

PTSD Patrol Kathie Costos June 15, 2021 "Can you imagine how I feel today?" is a question no one would have to ask if they talk...

PTSD Patrol

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It is your life, get in and drive it