Saturday, April 20, 2019

Will you fight for me this time?

When PTSD is your not fight it alone

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 20, 2019

I fight everyday for veterans because all of you matter, and so do your families. The only thing I want out of decades of work, is to not be needed anymore. After 37 years, it would be nice to know that you are getting all the help you need and no one needs me anymore. 

I give everything I have away for free most of the time. Sometimes I cannot afford the expense, so I ask for help. I asked when I started to give away the PTSD Patrol T-shirts but only a few people helped me. The goal was to change the conversation from heartache to empowerment.

Then I see all the new groups popping up getting press coverage and shared on social media a zillion times, raking in millions of dollars, yet there are more veterans than ever being failed and left to fight alone.

PTSD is my battle and I cannot fight this alone, nor should I be expected to still do it alone!

There are so many things I never get credit for doing. Coming up with the "new normal" living with PTSD back in 2010 is one of them.

Surviving something that could have, or should have, killed us, leaves the old normal behind and we get to adapt to a "new normal" of the way things evolved afterwards...AS SURVIVORS.

I do not know what combat is like. I survived 10 times during my life. All of them have been known to cause PTSD. While I did go through the stress reactions that become side effects of PTSD, it was not able to take hold. The nightmares, for the most part, were gone, along with flashbacks, mood swings, anger, paranoia and constant questioning as to why I was still alive evaporated.

That is why I understand what combat did to veterans. I got into an argument with a veteran many years ago, who decided to challenge me. He said "What do you know? You were never in combat!" So I ran down the list of things I survived and then challenged him to be able to tell me he understood what all of them did to me. 

Once we agreed to be two human survivors, he started to listen to what I had to say so that he could rejoice as a survivor too and heal.

I came up with "suffering in silence" because that was exactly what my then-future-husband and his buddies were doing in 1984. After two years of researching PTSD, I wrote about it so that others could learn about it.

I tried over and over again, until a therapy session in 1999, with a psychologist, started what would become, the book FOR THE LOVE OF JACK, HIS WAR/MY BATTLE.

I did not want fame back then, especially when I was writing about a very personal subject during a time when few others were willing to do so. I still do not want fame, but after 37 years, it is now a time to shout from the roof that we will be celebrating our 35th anniversary and my husband is still my hero!

Everything I have done on PTSD is because of him. The more I learned about PTSD, the more I loved him.

After 16 years since the book was published I am grieved more than ever. While I sit here thinking that maybe I should have just settled for our happy ending with this battle won, and returned to what most view as "normal life" the tug at my heart makes it impossible to do it now.

I reviewed a lot of the posts I put up about this book, along with many emails and I am even more convinced that had it not been for the way the publisher dealt with my work, more could have been helped.

Help is one thing that I have not been on the receiving end of very often. Yesterday I posted on this on Facebook.

This was after sharing an extremely embarrassing situation that I needed help to recover from. I needed help to take back control of my book. Less than ten responded with help. It made me wonder if I matter at all after all these years.

Then I reviewed reasons why I should still fight for this book to be shared with as many people as possible. It came from emails I received over the years when I actually knew it mattered!

July 20, 2005

Dear Kathie,

Thank you for sharing your life and wisdom in For The Love of Jack. I must also thank you for sharing it through the internet.

I admit to you that I had not initially sought out this information. It was forwarded to me yesterday by my good friend Edward XXXXXX. I started the book last night, didn't sleep very well, too many thoughts on the matter at hand, woke up this morning, made a lighter and quicker breakfast fare than usual only so that I could get back to your story.

Being forty-eight years of age I do share most of your pre-Jack memories of Vietnam, especially the news reports at dinner time, it was a pretty horrific time in our lives. I'm ashamed to admit that Vietnam was a memory that I had set aside.

I had heard some talk of PTSD, it only came to light with 9/11. I had also heard of "shell shock" but again, it seemed like a distant memory of something that happened to people back in WWII. In my ignorance I thought that it was caused by a physical manifestation - like shrapnel or a head injury having been it's cause.

Your book enlightened me in more ways than you can imagine. I wish these living angels could sprout wings so that we would know them when we see them, so that we could revere and thank them and treat them with the fullest respect and dignity that they so deserve.

Then again, you should have sprouted a set of wings, too!

With love and continued healing and blessings to you and yours,
August 4, 2005

Hello Kathy - I was just about to contact you. Late Tuesday afternoon, Bobby XXXX, our PTSD Unit Case Manager completed his review of the book (I've inserted his comment below) We just wanted to allow our internal case managers an opportunity to review before placing online. Now, in terms of formatting, how would you like the book to be placed on the website? In Adobe or some other format? We are now in the process of revising our website and over the next two weeks will have a lot of new information going online, at that time, we will also place your book online. Do we need to have any formal agreements from you in order to do this? Anything else you want to let me know about? Just let me know. Thanks again Kathy.

Here is Bob XXXX comment

Hi Stephen, I put a little more into Kathie's book.It'll be especially helpful to significant others or those affected by secondary ptsd, up close or from distances. She makes it easy for the readers who need to grasp closure as well as those who quietly need to know.

December 20, 2005
Dear Mrs., Costos

I came across a Web-site and I enjoyed what you had written there. I am a Veteran Vietnam 1967-69. I know what it is like to be married to a Vietnam Veteran. I have two ex.-wife's neither of whom can say I ever abused them. I think the work normal is something Vets don't have. My last two wife's still love me either can sleep in the same bed with me. So they now sleep in the bed of someone else. I have a knew wife of a year and she has moved to the couch.

She I think she is afraid, I might died during the night. I do love her very, very much so I respect her need to sleep on the couch. I have got the works, heart problems, Sugar, PTSD a whole list. I go out and work everyday I can to take care of her and would not have it any other way. My problem I just don't no how mush longer I can hang in there.

I have been fighting with the Veterans Administration since 2001 to get help. Last Dec. I manage finally to get some help. I was homeless for three years after 2001. I would work and could only make enough money to eat and buy my smokes. I was refused care by four Veterans Hospitals during that time. So, I know what you have been through. I know in your heart your a good person. You not only tried, but you kept tiring. Most women just take the money and run!

Thank you Kathie for hanging in there with yourVet, heaven has a place for you waiting.

Thank you again, To be kind is ever so wise!
Your Friend,
The Rose

So, I read more emails, more on how this book helped them, as well as helped them help someone else.

I asked publishers to take this on and they said no. I asked marketing people who claimed they were willing to help, but they did nothing. I asked law firms, and they did nothing. It would be easier for me to just forget all about this, but not easier on the families needing to find it!

Now, I am begging for someone to help me! I cannot afford to get this book printed by myself and there is no way in hell I want to profit from it after all these years being tortured by the publisher. I have paid too high of a price already for trying to do the right thing for the right reasons.

If you can donate, any amount will help. If you cannot donate, then please pass on this on to someone who can. Keep in mind that it will not be tax deductible since this money is going to me so that I can have total control over purchasing and shipping the books out. I wrote this long before I was a part of any group other than families suffering in silence! 

Spc. Kamisha Block's family did not settle for what military told them

Army reopens case of 2007 murder-suicide that was originally called 'friendly fire'

Published: April 19, 2019

AUSTIN, Texas – One gunshot wound to the chest from friendly fire — that’s the story Spc. Kamisha Block’s family was told about her death in Iraq.
Spc. Kamisha Block was buried in her hometown of Vidor, Texas. Twelve years after she was murdered by a fellow soldier at Camp Liberty, Iraq, the Army has reopened the investigation into her death. Rose L. Thayer/Stars and Stripes

Her family had no reason not believe the two soldiers who arrived at their home in Vidor, Texas in August 2007 to break the bad news to them.

But when Block’s body arrived at their local funeral home with five gunshot wounds, including one in the head, her family started asking questions.

“It’s just lie after lie after lie after lie!” Shonta Block

Shonta Block said family members have questioned the Army about her sister, waiting six months to get the report on her Aug. 16, 2007 noncombat death. The family learned while she was deployed at Camp Liberty, Iraq, the 20-year-old soldier was shot to death by her 30-year-old boyfriend, Staff Sgt. Paul Brandon Norris, who then turned his weapon on himself.

In August, Shonta Block, who works with a remodeling company, said they finally got a glimmer of hope when a phone call from the Inspector General of the Army Criminal Investigation Command informed her that the investigation into her sister’s death was reopened.

“I was on a job painting a door,” Shonta Block said about the call. “I said, ‘Oh my God, thank you.’ I couldn’t stop saying it. I just kept saying thank you.”
read more here

Veteran thanks officer for saving his life during crisis

Military veteran living with PTSD recalls night APD officer helped save his life

KOAT 7 News
Shellya Leggett 
April 19, 2019
"When it was going on, that was like, that was really intense and scary for me. So, it was just like, in hindsight thinking about it, you know, that guy was really, really patient and really cool with me." J Freeman

Albuquerque police and other agencies across New Mexico are requiring officers to get training from psychologists on how to deal with people with mental illnesses.

A man who said that training helped save his life spoke to KOAT. J Freeman is a six-year Army and Air Force veteran who lives with post-traumatic stress disorder. He said without the help of Albuquerque Police Department officer Phillip Meier, he might not be here to tell his story.

Freeman said he spent some time overseas in Kuwait and Iraq but has been home since 2003 and lives every day with PTSD.

"It's not always easy to have a conversation with someone, and when it's a police officer or anyone, especially when they have weapons on them, it just makes you all the more defensive and agitated," Freeman said.

About a week ago, he had a PTSD crisis.

"If I was agitated, if this were two years ago, this would have been a completely different ending," Freeman said.

He needed help, and two-year APD officer and five-year Navy veteran Phillip Meier was there.
read more here

Friday, April 19, 2019

Veterans Memorial Park taken over by homeless

Port Angeles considers fencing off Veterans Memorial Park from the homeless

King 5 News
Author: Eric Wilkinson
April 19, 2019

Police calls to Veterans Memorial Park in Port Angeles have skyrocketed and residents say they no longer feel safe.

At Veterans Memorial Park in Port Angeles, a replica of the Liberty Bell is defaced with graffiti. The park is teeming with garbage. Nearby residents say they no longer feel safe.

"This can be a horrific mess of trash and human waste," said Karen Rogers. "We have needles, illicit sex acts. This is a school bus route, for crying out loud!"

Rogers is a former mayor of Port Angeles. Her son is an Iraq War veteran. To her, seeing the memorial this way just isn't right.

"This place, to me, is the heart of service," she said. "We honor those who have served our country. We honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice."

The situation has grown much worse over the past three years with the opioid epidemic. Police calls to the park have skyrocketed.
read more here

Florida veteran moved back to California...and into "Faith Defines Us"

Affordable housing helps veteran start clothing company

The Signal
Emily Alvarenga
April 18, 2019
Now, Martin owns his own business. “Faith Defines Us” is an online Christian apparel brand that, according to Martin, is “more than just selling clothes, it’s like a ministry.”

Tommy Martin served in the U.S. Army for six years before moving to California from Florida.

“I just wanted something different from where I grew up,” Martin said.

He then “played catch up by going back to school” and went on to get three bachelor’s degrees in marketing, business law and design.

Martin and his wife were living in San Francisco and looking for Veteran Affairs housing benefits a couple of years ago, when they stumbled upon the Santa Clarita Veteran Enriched Neighborhood.

A total of 78 single-family homes were being built by Homes 4 Families, a nonprofit dedicated to helping create affordable housing for veterans.

“(My wife) grew up in Santa Clarita, and didn’t want to move back, but God works in mysterious ways,” Martin said.
read more here

Unclaimed veterans laid to rest in Washington

Unclaimed veterans' remains put to rest with dignity and honor

by Julia Espinoza
April 18th 2019

PASCO, Wash. -- Remains of 21 veterans left unclaimed by loved ones are being honored with a proper burial at the Washington State Veterans cemetery in Medical Lake.

On Thursday, a service took place before the ride, honoring fallen heroes with a poem, folding of flag and the pledge of allegiance.

“It’s part of the veteran brotherhood no brother or sister left behind they deserve full military honors and they should not be forgotten,” said John Fish, Ride Coordinator.

The Missing in America Project is a program that helps locate, identify and provide a proper burial for fallen heroes.
read more here

Missouri firefighters caught pushing around disabled veteran in wheelchair

Now that I have your was in a very good way~

Missouri firefighters push disabled veteran home after electric wheelchair battery dies

ABC 13 News
Thursday, April 18th, 2019

RAYTOWN, Mo. -- A group of Missouri firefighters lent a helping hand to a fellow citizen after his motorized wheelchair battery died, leaving him stranded far from his home.
Video shared to Facebook by the Raytown Fire Protection District showed three firefighters as they pushed the man's wheelchair down the side of the street as their fire engine followed behind them.

In an interview with Yahoo, deputy chief Mike Hunley said the man was an elderly veteran whose chair became trapped in muddy grass. By the time he was freed, the battery had begun to run low, so firefighters pushed him seven blocks home and set him up to recharge the battery.
read more here

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Vietnam Vet Charles "Billy" Johnson laid to rest by "brothers"

Veteran with no family honored by Tennessee vets

WSMV 4 News
Posted on Apr 17, 2019

A funeral was scheduled Wednesday for a Vietnam Veteran in Nashville, knowing he had no living family or close friends that would attend.
So, the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro sent out an open invitation for anyone to come.

Family doesn't have to be blood relatives, the family here today was veterans.
No one deserves an unattended funeral.

Certainly not Vietnam Vet Charles "Billy" Johnson.

When local veterans heard about this April 17th service, Veterans Cemetery in West Nashville invited anyone who cared about those who served.

"Kind of warmed my heart a little bit to see all these people here to pay final respects."
read more here

Arizona now has way to track veterans committing suicide...because they did not before

Governor Ducey Signs Bill To Better Track Veteran Suicides

News Release
April 17, 2019

New Data Will Help Inform Arizona’s Efforts To Prevent Veteran Suicide

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today signed HB 2488, legislation sponsored by Representative Jay Lawrence, directing the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) to submit an annual report improving the tracking of veteran suicides in Arizona.

Veterans face a risk of suicide four times greater than non-veterans in Arizona. Until now, Arizona did not have a formal way to track or report veteran suicides in the state. The new annual report will provide critical data to help Arizona understand and prevent veteran suicide. The report will begin in January 2020 and will track a variety of data points that will provide historical and regional trends and compare Arizona's resident veteran suicide rate to the national rate and other regions across the country.

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much to protect our freedom, and this country and Arizona are going to continue doing everything we can to support our veterans and prevent veteran suicide,” said Governor Ducey. “This legislation will provide Arizona with a necessary tool to understand the issues that cause veteran suicide, and implement data-driven policy to address this devastating issue.”

“There are no easy answers when it comes to veteran suicides. With this new report, Arizona will now be able to define the scope of the devastating problem of veteran suicide and find a way to prevent them and bolster our veterans’ services,” said Representative Lawrence. “I thank my colleagues for the bipartisan support and Governor Ducey for signing this legislation to help Arizona’s veterans.”

The FY2020 budget includes increased funding for Arizona’s “Be Connected” suicide prevention program. The Be Connected program connects service members, veterans and their families to support and resources. In 2018, the program assisted over 2,000 individuals. This investment will also support community outreach efforts to find additional public, private and non-profit partnership opportunities and increase awareness of the critical resources available to Arizona’s military and veteran communities.

#BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife
Side by side the same way you fought every other battle!

Vietnam Veteran Col. Philip Conran may get MOH

Should this airman receive the Medal of Honor for Laos battle? A congressman thinks so

Air Force Times
By: Stephen Losey
April 19, 2019

A California congressman is pushing to upgrade a retired Air Force colonel’s Air Force Cross to a Medal of Honor for “extraordinary heroism” during a fierce 1969 battle in Laos.
Col. Philip J. Conran receives an Air Force Cross for his heroic actions in Laos on Oct. 6, 1969. (Courtesy of the Robert F. Dorr Collection)

Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-California, on Monday introduced a bill, HR 2330, that would authorize the president to upgrade Col. Philip Conran’s Air Force Cross to the nation’s highest award for valor.

On Oct. 6, 1969, as the United States’ war in Vietnam spilled over into Laos, then-Maj. Philip Conran was part of a mission that went south when a helicopter was shot down, according to a narrative provided by Carbajal’s staff. Conran took charge during the rescue attempt, and repeatedly put himself at risk to save 44 of his fellow troops, according to the legislation.
read more here