Showing posts with label inspirational. Show all posts
Showing posts with label inspirational. Show all posts

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Stranger Angels Among Us Healing PTSD

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 2, 2022

“If I say it, it will become real and you’ll know I’m nuts.”

Those were the words Chris told his therapist. He wasn't a veteran but had #PTSD. It hit him after reporting on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2012 when a bomb blast nearly killed him. It struck him again when his wife decided waiting for him to commit suicide was taking too long, and she decided to kill him. For seven years, he lost everything he had evaporate, including his faith in God.

On Google Play and Audio July 4th, 2022

The Lost Son Alive Again is part one of this three-part series. It is also available as an audiobook.

The series is about the PTSD all of us survivors face. Too many dismiss what we go through because reporters cover veterans more than the rest of us. If they don't know we're real, we feel abandoned with no way of finding comforting support to discover we are not alone and our futures are not filled with hopelessness.

Chris was a reporter and domestic violence survivor with PTSD. The only friend Chris had was the bartender at a local bar. Ed was an ex-pastor with PTSD after a young veteran committed suicide instead of talking to him.

Chris's best friend Bill since childhood was a soldier with PTSD, determined to stay in the Army until a member of his unit was kicked out under personality disorder instead of being helped. David was in the same unit with PTSD, also retiring believing it was his only option. They walked back into Chris's life on the night he decided it was time for his suffering to come to an end.

David and Bill told Chris about Mandy, a mysterious woman living in Gabriel New Hampshire that healed them. She was a survivor of child abuse and domestic violence because her husband abused her and then tried to kill her.

He met Alex and Mary Michaels, brother and sister Christian book publishers who had PTSD from child abuse. They offered him a chance to write a book about healing PTSD, sending him on a journey to not just change his life, but the lives of all survivors.

Grace was a retired Orlando Police Officer with PTSD after the Pulse Nightclub massacre. She was one of  Chris's best friends too.

Drake was a gay female wrestler until during her last fight, her opponent died. She had PTSD from that along with the suicide of her first love interest. She became Mandy's protector after Mandy saved her from suicide.

Benjamin was a Vietnam veteran with PTSD and extremely wealthy because a Korean War veteran helped him heal.

Throughout these books, there are many different characters struggling to heal and when they find it, they pass it on to all those they come into contact with. 

Part two introduces more characters and covers their spiritual struggles along with how healing is always a work in progress. It is a battle no one wins alone, but with support, it is one that can be won. 

From Stranger Angels Among Us


Chris arrived at his therapist Dariana Kemp’s office. The pastor Ed told him about helping him heal and had retired but he suggested another pastor/psychologist he knew. She was a good fit for Chris and gained his trust. He called her for an emergency appointment before he left for Gabriel.

Her office was in an old mansion in the center of Salem. She was only middle-aged but had the wisdom of what Chris called an “old spirit” with short salt and pepper hair, piercing eyes, behind large rim purple glasses, and an infectious laugh. She knew more about the Bible than anyone else he had ever known. She got into working on PTSD using psychology and spirituality after losing her Vietnam veteran father to suicide.

Chris sat in the huge leather chair near the fireplace playing with his fingers as his eyes moved everywhere in the room, avoiding having to look at Dariana. He knew she could see right through him.

While he was looking at the massive wall of books, she gave him a few minutes to put his thoughts together, then gave up. “Ok Chris, it’s time to speak up. What’s going on? You said it was urgent.” She knew him well enough to have extra patience with him. For a great writer, he was lousy at concocting stories to speak and even worse at lying to cover up what he didn’t want to say. 

“I’m upset Grace isn’t coming because I don’t want to do this but she was going to make it a little easier to do. Now I have to go there alone, have my heart ripped out for Mandy, and then drive back alone.” He took a deep breath, finally looked at her, then hung his head down. “I don’t want to do it, but I know I have to.  I want you to tell me I don’t have to go there.”

“You don’t have to go there. You could just email Drake, get her thoughts about Mandy and let her approve the script or make her changes. But you already know that. Why do you need me to tell you what you already know?”

“I guess I needed reassurance.” Hating the thought of having to admit it, “My confidence is in the toilet right now. The first book was done and in book stores in six months and so was the second one. I’ve been working on this one for eight months and it still isn’t done.”

“What do you think is holding you back?”

“The others were easier, I guess because I lived in that hell and I knew what put me there. With this, with it being about kids, it’s causing more emotional pain than I expected. I had to read so many articles on child abuse, that it made me sick. That’s why I knew I had to talk to the people already in my life because they lived in that hell and found their way out.” Dariana saw he was holding something back. She waited. He slammed the arm of the chair. “You know what pisses me off the most about all this?”

“That it’s all still happening?”

“Not just that. The so-called pro-life people screaming about how they are protecting the lives of the unborn! What about protecting the lives of the born? What about protecting them when they get raped or abused by their parents? I keep thinking about that woman who was raped and decided to have the baby so she could put it up for adoption but the rapist had rights just because of the state they lived in. If he hadn’t freaked out and got shot in jail, I wonder what would have happened to the baby.”

“Sometimes it’s like laws protect criminals more than the victims.”

“Ya. All these claims about morality and not a peep out of any of them about kids being gunned down in schools by weapons designed to kill as many as possible because other people want to have fun with those same guns. These born children should matter to all of them at least as much as the unborn. Since they don’t, since they don’t show up in mass to protect children born into this world, with the soul from God within their bodies, it proves those people are only pro-birth and I think that is a true abomination.”

“God granted everyone free will to make their own choices about their bodies and what they do or do not believe. Sometimes I wonder what gives others the right to force their own beliefs onto everyone else. They scream the loudest, so everyone else is their enemy and evil in their eyes. There are denominations believing people have the right to decide for themselves. Presbyterians fully support the right for people to decide for themselves so that every child is loved because they were wanted. I still preach when another pastor goes on vacation and gets into all kinds of discussions with folks because of all the other talk that’s out there. They know what is right for them and what their moral values are, but they end up questioning themselves because others try to force theirs on them.”

“And most of the others are phony as hell.” Dariana saw how the anger just rushed out of him. Then sadness moved in. “Like Mandy’s parents. I need to know what it was like for Mandy before she became a miracle worker. That’s the only way I can be able to help kids with the new book. I think the only way I can understand what it was like living in that hell, is to go in there so God can get them out.”

“So how are the mood swings now? How many times does it still happen?”

“They aren’t as bad as they used to be."

“Good. Work on that more. You’ve been hearing the stories of others for a couple of years now. Why is Mandy’s story so hard for you?”

“I honestly don’t know. I’ve been questioning myself more than usual in the last couple of months. I mean, I had a great childhood. My parents loved me, gave me what I needed and I always knew they were proud of me.” His hands began to tremble. He stood up, and she turned to watch him walk to the window. He was looking away from her, shoved his hands into his pockets, and took a deep breath. “In a way, I’m glad they passed away before all that happened. I don’t think I could have taken seeing the pain in their eyes. They’d have no way of knowing how things would turn out like this and it would have been seven years of agony for them too.”

“I can understand that. What do you think they’d feel about all this now?”

“They’d be proud but, I’m glad they didn’t have to suffer before my life got good again.” He slowly walked back to the chair and sat down.

She waited for him to say more, watched his body language and how his eyes were moving. “I think you’re holding something back, but when you’re ready, you’ll tell me what it is. “ How’s the drinking?”

“Good. I enjoy it now instead of abusing it and starting to learn how to, as you said, experience my feelings, like you said I should, instead of trying to drown them. It isn’t easy but you taught me how to stop fighting them.”

She grinned, “Seriously? Did you forget you suck at lying?”

“Honestly, I still drink too much when things get too intense.”

“We'll work on that and maybe start praying on it instead of trying to get plastered.“

“I’ll try harder.”

“We talked a lot about the flashbacks before but I need you to go back to right before it. Where were you going to?”

“We were headed to meet Bill and his unit.”

“What was your mood like?”

“I don’t know. I was pissed off about something.”

“Can you remember what it was?”

As he covered his mouth, his eyes were moving rapidly, then froze looking at her. “I was pissed off because I tried to get her to go a different way. It was like a premonition that the road was dangerous.”

“Any idea where that came from?”

“I don’t know. The longer we were on that road, the stronger the feeling of doom came over me.” He sat quietly searching his memory. “The more upset I was getting, the more she laughed at me. I told her she was just as bossy as my wife and told her they had more than just their names in common. Oh my God! I forgot her name was Brenda too. Wow! Anyway, we had the windows up because of all the sand, but for some reason, I opened mine.”

“You said you were looking out the window. Do you remember what made you turn your head to the left?”

He winced, “If I say it, it will become real and you’ll know I’m nuts.”

“Just say it and then that memory will lose some of the power it has over you. Besides, I told you before, we’re all a little bit nuts.”

He didn’t want to say it. The words were trying to get out but he locked his lips to stop them from escaping knowing once he said it, he’d never be able to take it back. He looked at her, remembered how much he knew he could trust her, and the words escaped. “I heard my name.”

“Was it your driver’s voice?”

“No, it was a male’s voice. I heard it loud and clear but I can’t make sense out of it because we were going something like forty miles an hour and her window was still up.”

“Have your thoughts about that changed since it happened?”

“No. To tell you the truth, I forgot about most of that. Why? What do you think it means?”

“Maybe God was trying to prevent it? We hear stories of things like that happening all the time. Someone didn’t get on a plane for reasons they couldn’t explain and it ended up crashing. People decide to go a different way and then end up discovering there was a major accident or a bridge collapsed. I think God tries to prevent a lot of things but people don’t understand what He’s trying to get them to pay attention to.”

“All I know right now is, if I didn’t open the window, the glass would have shattered on top of the shrapnel hitting us. If I didn’t turn my head to the left because of the voice, if I survived it, my face would have been destroyed and I probably would have been blind. Hard to take in right now, but I know you’re probably right.

“I’m glad you told me that and let that secret out. That flashback will lose some power now, just like when you found out Brenda died and wouldn’t haunt you anymore. What about the dreams? Any closer to making sense of them?

“Nope. They’re getting stronger. Last night I saw Grace at the Salem Willows wharf. She was standing on the edge for a while then she jumped in. She didn’t come back up.” Chris looked down at the floor.”

“Is that how it ended?”

“No. I was terrified and woke up. My heart was beating hard and I forced myself to go back to sleep. Then in the dream, she came up out of the water holding the woman from the other dreams. Grace was dry but she was dripping wet with her hair all over her face. The only thing I could see was her lips. She mouthed the words, ‘help me find my way,’ and then I woke up.” “Didn’t the sleeping pills help?”

“No, I stopped taking them because they made it worse. I couldn’t wake up after it started and then it just went into loop replay with the same dream. Without them, I can wake up and when I finally fall back to sleep, they usually don’t start again.”

“So the dreams could be tied to the book. You said they were getting stronger over the last couple of months and that was when you started to struggle with it.”

“I just keep thinking what if,” he didn’t want to get the words out because he knew once he did, it would become real. “What if I’m not supposed to write this one and that’s why I’m having a hard time?”

“What if you are and you are the one fighting yourself? Think about it. What came over you to want to write it in the first place?”

“Some of the letters I got about the other books. People told me what they went through and how much the books helped them. When I started to write it, that was around the same time the dreams started but they were only coming once in a while.” “That’s starting to sound more like a vision than just a dream.”

“What do you mean?”

Dariana got up, went to the bookcase, and returned with a book in her hand, The Vision Awaits. She handed it to Chris. “The book of Revelations was filled with visions of what John saw. It’s like the feeling you have that is compelling you to go back to Gabriel. The same thing you felt when you were compelled to go there the first time and back last year. It’s a vision of something you need to know has to happen instead of you just feeling what you need to do.”

“I trust God more than ever, but I still have a hard time trusting myself. Do you think the dreams are getting stronger because the time is getting closer to it happening?”

“Maybe. That’s something that you need to be patient for. None of us can see what God can. None of us know what’s the best way, but He does. Most of the time we create a mess because we don’t like to wait for anything, and what makes it harder, is when we lose faith it will happen. We screw things up by trying to do it on our timeline. I’ve done that plenty of times myself. I think we all have. I also know that getting to people soon after the trauma happens has a lot better chance of keeping them from the extra suffering.

“I know I wish I leaned on someone and then maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have suffered for those seven years.” Chris looked down at the floor. “I mean, I know it wasn’t all my fault what happened to me, but I decided to walk away from God when I should have been running toward Him.”

“You didn’t have anyone to open your eyes and give you a reason to. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Chris was feeling a rush of guilt, “That’s just it. At first, I did. Bill tried for a while. The Chaplain in his company kept reaching out to me whenever I went to cover the wars. I remember the second time I was covering them, I forgot my Bible. I missed having that comfort. The Chaplain handed me it and I carried it on every assignment until it got blown up with me in Afghanistan. Then, after I was back home, recovering, he kept calling me and emailing me and I wouldn’t respond. I think that was God’s way of telling me He was there for me but I refused to see it. Over the years, it was like I didn’t even want to admit someone was trying to help me. Bill, eventually he gave up too.”

“Did you try to contact him?”

“Who? Bill or the Chaplain?”

“Both. I know you have Bill back in your life but what about the years in between?”

“I wasn’t ready to listen back then. I guess after that, I felt ashamed of the way I treated him and the Chaplain. After the press conference we had about the Netflix series, the Chaplain wrote me a letter and said that he never gave up on me but put me into God’s hands. He said that he always saw something special in me and when he saw me giving my speeches, he saw it come out. He said he was proud of me.”

“Did you write back to him?”

“Ya. We even spoke a few times on the phone since then. I keep wondering what would have happened if I did listen to him back then. Would the rest of this still happen?”

“That’s something only God knows. I don’t pretend to know His mind any better than you do, but from what I’ve learned about you, I don’t think you would have accomplished what you did had you not suffered the way you did.

“What do you mean?” Chris was getting angry, “That my suffering was part of His plan?

“Hell no. What I mean is, that you weren’t ready to listen but above that, you had forgotten how powerful God is and how much all of us do depend on others in this world. That is what you’ve added to what you are preaching.”

“I’m not a preacher!”

“Yes, you are. You keep saying that as if you don’t want to admit it to yourself. That is exactly what you’ve been doing. Why do you get so defensive whenever that is pointed out to you? Is that what you’re holding inside of you?”

Chris looked down at the floor. “I don’t know how to say it. I’ve never told another person. I didn't even tell Mandy the whole thing.”

Dariana leaned forward in her chair. “Whatever it is, it may be what’s missing in your healing. Just close your eyes and tell me.”

“When I was young I wanted to become a Priest. That part I was able to talk about. It was a reoccurring dream that I never talked about before.”

“You’re in a safe place right now to talk about it. Just close your eyes so you aren’t trying to read my facial expressions and remember the dream.”

Chris leaned back, closed his eyes and the memory came to life. “I was in the sanctuary wearing the vestments of a priest, and carrying an empty challis, walking down the aisle, like the Holy procession but there was no one else inside. All the pews were empty. Instead of going up another aisle, I carried the challis out the front door. When I got outside, I was wearing a flannel shirt, T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, as I wore to school. I stood on the top step, looked down at the challis and it was full. I looked up and saw hundreds of people there. I gave Communion to all of them, and then preached on the Parable of the Good Samaritan.”

Chris opened his eyes. Dariana was looking at him. “What happened after that?”

“I just saw it all again like it was happening.”

“Close your eyes again and tell me what you told the people.”

“I preached to the crowd about the Good Samaritan and how the stranger took care of the man who had been attacked and robbed. How those who claimed to be serving God had no compassion in them.” He recited Luke 10:30-37. Chris opened his eyes. Dariana was amazed. “You said that perfectly. How much more of the Bible have you memorized?"

“That’s the only one. I think it’s because I had that dream so many times when I was young, it became a part of me.” “Have you thought about why it means so much to you?"

“I’m not sure but I always thought about the Samaritan and what happened afterward. I mean, no one knew what he did other than the man he helped and the Innkeeper. So what Jesus said must have come from God watching it. I think God was trying to get the others to stop and help the man but the Samaritan was the only one who listened to Him. I thought about how he must have done a lot of other things only God knew about and that was the way I should live my life too. Now I get upset when people praise me and ask why I do it. The other thing that bothers me is when I get accused of trying to turn people away from the church. I mean, maybe in the back of my mind, they’re right. I mean, it’s appalling to me how so many members of the clergy, no matter what denomination, show absolutely no connection to what Christ taught. They give Christians a bad name and make people think they’re all reprehensible.”

“There is another way to look at it. You brought the Communion out to people who felt they couldn’t enter the church. That tells me what you’ve been doing is exactly what you were intended to do. It also means that the vision of the woman you’ve been having is not the first time you had a vision.”

“What do you mean?”

“That dream you kept having was more like a vision but you just didn’t understand it. You put hope back into the minds of the hopeless. You bring the power of God’s love directly to the churchless children of God. They’re learning that they’re not Fatherless. Maybe in a way, you’re also proving the frauds are not serving God.”

“I hope you’re right because I’m going to need to harness whatever power I have inside of me to do it. It feels as if something is brewing out there.”

“Then pray for the words they’ll need to hear.” Dariana smiled, “The spirit inside you has given you the words people needed to hear and will keep giving them to you. Believe that and trust that. It also explains why you feel so uncomfortable with people praising you. Just deal with it and praise God more so they’ll see He is behind whatever you do for them.”

When Chris got up to leave, Dariana decided to ask him a question she had been wondering since they met. “I have to ask you something. You’re a multimillionaire but you still dress like you don’t have any money at all and live in the same apartment you had. Why do you still live like you have nothing?”

“That’s an easy question to answer. I lived my life this way all along. Even when I had money living in LA, I didn’t like living in that condo. It was too fancy. I felt out of place. I also felt uncomfortable dressing up, like it wasn’t me. Anyway, I live a comfortable life even though it sure is an odd one.” He smiled and Dariana hugged him.

“Well, at least now I understand why you won’t let me tell anyone you’ve been paying me to take care of people with no insurance or money for the last three months.”

“You’re good and too many people need your help, like me. I want them to be able to heal like you’re helping me.

When Chris left, Dariana went over to her computer, opened Chris’s file, and said a prayer, as she always did when he left. She wrote, “I prayed for Chris that God would open his heart and mind and receive the courage and strength he needs for what is to come. I prayed that he would finally open his heart enough so that he would fully feel the joy of what true love is and let it fill the empty place still left in his soul.”

Chris got into his car and sat still for a while. He thought about what Dariana said and about the vision from his youth. It made him understand why he never wanted any praise for what he did for others and why he kept as much as possible secret.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

PTSD People Awareness Month

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 1, 2022

Today begins PTSD Awareness Month. If you go to that link, it goes to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Appropriately since what trauma does to survivors began to be researched by studying Vietnam Veterans. The thing is, if you read what is within the pages you'll find the word "people" and not just veterans.

PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.


It’s normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after this type of event. At first, it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about. But most people start to feel better after a few weeks or months.

If it’s been longer than a few months and you’re still having symptoms, you may have PTSD. For some people, PTSD symptoms may start later on, or they may come and go over time.

If I had one wish, it would be that this month would bring awareness that PTSD strikes survivors, all of us, no matter what we survived. That's why I wrote The Lost Son Alive Again and the upcoming Stranger Angels Among Us. 

The Lost Son Alive Again by Kathie Costos ebook

I wanted to do something that included survivors of many different events to show their struggles, so by the end of the books, you'll discover how much power you do have over the rest of your life. 

I survived over 10 events but the one that did it to me was when my ex-husband tried to kill me and then stalked me. The thing is, even I didn't know I had PTSD despite working to help others for 4 decades. I had a rare form of it that stopped when I found out he died and could no longer harm me. I mean, I had nightmares, flashbacks, mood swings, paranoia, and everything else, but all that came with the one thing that made me freak out. The sound of a muscle car. If you have ever been stalked you know what it is like to have a trigger reminder of it and terror takes over common sense. Even though you discover you didn't really have anything to fear from whatever the trigger was, those memories have already taken hold. It may not make sense to people you know but they don't know what it was like for you to survive it.

Anyway, that's why the main character of the series is not a veteran. He was a reporter and his wife tried to kill him and then stalked him. I wanted a male character because while it is hardly ever mentioned, males can go through domestic violence too. While there are veterans in these books, there are a lot of others too.

As you read, you see the suffering until friends come along to help the healing begin. You'll see the struggles all of us go through as we learn one day at a time to take another step out of the darkness we were living with and into the healing light of hope.

It bugs me that I had to rewrite these books because while people loved the stories, they felt trapped by the Bible passages spoiling the flow of the story. I wanted them included because spiritual healing is just as vital as mental health efforts. I know I couldn't have adapted without my faith. I had to rewrite them because with everything going on with hateful people claiming to be Christians, it turned people off. I wanted to focus on the beauty and power of what too many miss in the Bible because they feel forced out of the church. It's like there is no place for us within the doors. The thing is, you don't need to be in a building to contact God and you don't have to be "worthy" to reach out to Him. You'll find that too.

I want you to find what I have now. It doesn't mean your life will be perfect and you'll never have any problems or do anything wrong ever again. It's more about discovering the way to get through all of it and seeing your life in a different way. I'm going through a lot right now, but, truthfully, I am calm even though I should be totally stressed out. I know why I'm not and I wish the same for you because I got to tell you, that this side of the darkness of PTSD is so much better than living without hope.

That's my message to start this month out with!

#BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife from #PTSD

Thursday, March 3, 2022

The people of Ukraine are fighting many battles

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 3, 2022

The people of Ukraine are fighting many battles right now. Some have decided to stay and fight the Russian invaders. Some decided to leave Ukraine to get away from the bombs, tanks and bullets. No one should judge any of them or assume that what you think you would do, is what they should do. No one knows but them. What you think you may do is something you will ever know until you too have to decide what choice to make. All we can do is pray for the best for all of them.

People are all different. 
One Body but Many Parts
There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

Most of us do not know what to do to help them. If the NATO nations joined in defending Ukraine, with our military forces there, it would unleash another world war, but this one would not end until the death and destruction of the entire planet. So please get that idea out of your head if you are thinking it would be an easy thing to do. Putin has shown no interest in doing the right thing at all.

So what can we do? What can the people of Ukraine do?

All of us are given different gifts. 

There are different kinds of gifts. But they are all given to believers by the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve. But they all come from the same Lord. There are different ways the Spirit works. But the same God is working in all these ways and in all people.

The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all. To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

What gift were you given to help them with? While some are fighting the Russian invaders, all of them are fighting the trauma inflicted on that nation. We can help them fight that one by letting them know they should not judge the actions of others. If they have chosen to leave, some will be regretting that decision but they should not. Not everyone has the ability to put their lives on the line. If they decided to stay and fight, they should not judge the actions of others who decided to leave. Again, not everyone has the same ability. Each of them are making hard choices based on their own capabilities.

If they choose to not fight, they can help those who do by offering to help their families and get their children out of the war zones. They can organize help to get them the supplies, weapons and support they need to defend Ukraine. They can always pray for God to show those who stay the way to defeat the invaders.

We have seen the actions of people who have found compassion for Russian soldiers who did not know what they are being ordered to do and have refused to do it. We have seen citizens form large groups to stop the tanks and do what they can to defend what they can. We have also seen miracles when tanks have gotten stuck in long lines giving people more time to evacuate and prepare for the battles that were forced on them.

If they are among those who left, they can open their eyes to see all the good people in other nations opening their arms to take care of them. They can help one another speak about what they are trying to recover from so they can begin to heal together.

They can all fight the enemy they are carrying inside of themselves so that they begin to heal even as the Russian invaders are still trying to destroy all they had. They can recover their own power by taking away the power of the evil invaders by using the power they do have to help others in whatever way they can with the gifts they have been given by the Holy Spirit inside of them.

As for the rest of us, remember, the Ukrainian people were just like the rest of us. Living their lives, doing their jobs, taking care of them families and living in peace at the same time Putin surrendered his soul to Satan.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Beyond the battlefield

Beyond the battlefield: Author shines light on PTSD that occurs outside a war zone

The Rochester Voice
Harrison Thorp
January 30, 2022
ROCHESTER - Kathie Costos of Rochester has devoted much of her life to the study of PTSD, including its far-less diagnosed forms that follow traumatic episodes outside the battlefield.

During a ribbon cutting for her two new books on Thursday Costos explained that her first brush with PTSD occurred at the age of 5 when she was seriously hurt in an accident, but was sent home by medical professionals who told her to just "get some sleep" when she had actually suffered a fractured skull and concussion.
read more here


A couple of lessons to take away from this. The first one is, never give up. It took me 40 years to get support like I've been getting here in Rochester New Hampshire. We moved here 4 months before COVID hit.

The other thing is, I hope readers of these books discover that they have nothing to be ashamed of if they, or someone they love, has PTSD, no matter what caused it. The truth is, surviving the cause, makes us survivors!

If someone thinks they should be ashamed but struggle with knowing they need help, see someone else ask for it and then get treated badly, they won't ask for help. If they see someone breaking the silence and receive help to heal and be happier, they are encouraged to dream about being able to do the same thing.

You can find these books and the rest here on Amazon. I am currently editing the third part of this series. Not bad for five months of work!

Monday, September 27, 2021

Want to believe in miracles again?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 27, 2021

We walk away from what we survive one of two ways. Either God did it to us, or God saved us. It is human nature to want to know why something happened to us. I know I did everytime I faced death. People like me are nothing worth reporting on, even though reporters always manage to cover the events that cause our lives to change. They show up to report on crimes, accidents, along with anything else that is traumatic and violent. Then they are gone while we continue to rewrite the story of our own lives.

According to the National Center for PTSD, there are about 15 million of us every year yet we are forgotten about. With all we survive, we lose so much afterwards that it is hard to find a reason we did. There were times when I didn't want to. Like the main character in my 4th book, The Lost Son, God had other plans for me too!
 


From The Lost Son

The scars on his body were reminders of what he survived but the scars in his soul were reminders of why he didn’t want to anymore.


Chris Papadopoulos was tired of waiting for his life to get better while he grew more bitter. Tired of paying the price for covering suffering while working as a report for an LA newspaper. Tired of the seven years he survived the bomb blast that ripped through his body while covering the war in Afghanistan. Tired of watching all he had erode like the fire escape from his window. 


He lost everything. His job, the only one that gave him purpose in life was over and he was writing greeting card messages. The condo in LA with his office covered with awards, was no longer his and he was living in a studio apartment back in Salem Massachusetts. His marriage ended when his ex-wife tried to kill him and then stalked him. All his friends were out of his life except his favorite bartender at a local bar.


Seven years was long enough. He sat on his bed with a gun in his hand while a war between hope and despair kept him from lifting the gun to his head. He gave up and went to the bar figuring that if he got drunk enough, he wouldn’t have to think about anything much longer.


Chris thought everyone he knew burned down the bridges between them and him. He couldn’t see he was the one with all the matches and his friends were trying to find the firehose. He was right about one thing. Seven years was too long for him to be suffering instead of healing, but God had other plans for him. That night, Chris was sent on a mission to save himself and millions of others when he discovered a secretive society changing the world one soul at a time.


Chris had been a "good guy" most of his life. He welcomed a new family to Salem when he was in the 6th grade. Bill Gibson became his best friend. Up until they were planing their futures as adults, they did everything together. Chris wanted to be a reporter so he could travel and let people know what was going on in the world. 


Bill wanted to join the Army, like his Dad did during Vietnam, and his grandfather, and his great grandfather. They all served willingly no matter how they were treated by some because they were black. Bill was half black and half white but he never saw people by the color of their skin. He always saw them by what was in their souls.


By the time September 11th happened, Bill and Chris were established in their new lives. Chris was a reporter for an LA newspaper and Bill was stationed at Fort Drum. Bill's sister Brenda ended up marrying Chris because she knew his job would have his traveling most of the time. She could do what she wanted, whenever she wanted to do it. Chris was back in Salem for his mother's funeral when the planes hit the towers but Brenda had another excuse to make his go by himself. Chris drove to New York as the only reporter close enough for the newspaper to get there with all planes grounded.


When Bill was deployed to Afghanistan, Chris had enough clout to get assigned to covering the war so he could watch over Bill. He became very close to Bill's buddy, David. They spent as much time as possible together like brothers.


September 13th 2012, a bomb blew up and Chris was torn up by shrapnel. Bill and David saw it happen. They saved his life until the medics took him away. That was the last time they saw him until seven years later when they walked into the bar and back into Chris's life. 


If you want to believe in miracles again, this may be what you need to open your eyes to how miracles happen all around you.


Keep checking back for more news about when you can read it.






Friday, June 5, 2020

Storytellers Project "Bouncing back. Recovering. Getting help..."

Storytellers Project to stream show about never giving up


USA Today
Michelle Rogers
June 5, 2020 

The USA TODAY Network's Storytellers Project will stream the show, part of its virtual season, at 8 p.m. EST on Thursday, June 11.

Bouncing back. Recovering. Getting help and getting on with it.

The Storytellers Project will celebrate resiliency in all of its forms during a show on June 11 from the USA TODAY Network.

“For so many reasons, now feels like a time when we could use stories of meaningful resilience in the face of adversity of all kinds,” said Megan Finnerty, founder and director of the Storytellers Project. “We are so fortunate to have storytellers willing to be vulnerable, and honest.”

The series, called “LIVE, In Your House," has been drawing hundreds of thousands of views since debuting April 2, when the COVID-19 pandemic started closing down venues where in-person shows had been held across the country. Shows are now streamed on the Storytellers Project’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
read it here

Monday, June 1, 2020

Help raise PTSD HEALING Awareness

Learn how to make a difference


Wounded Times
Cross Posted on PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
June 1, 2020


No matter what you think you know about PTSD, the truth is,  you have a lot more power than you think you do. The problem is, until you learn how to use it, things will still suck!

PTSD Patrol Family Road Trip Guide
We have actually taken a back seat for far too long!


This video was the first one I did on PTSD and Wounded Minds to help you learn more about the difference you can make. Originally it went up in 2006 and was reposted afterwards.

Help Raise PTSD Awareness


National Center for PTSD

There are currently about 8 million people in the United States with PTSD.
Even though PTSD treatments work, most people who have PTSD don't get the help they need. June is PTSD Awareness Month. Help us spread the word that effective PTSD treatments are available. Everyone with PTSD—whether they are Veterans or civilian survivors of sexual assault, serious accidents, natural disasters, or other traumatic events—needs to know that treatments really do work and can lead to a better quality of life.

Join Us
During PTSD Awareness Month, and throughout the entire year, help raise awareness about the many different PTSD treatment options. You can make a difference in the lives of Veterans and others who have experienced trauma. Everyone can help.
read it here

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Police Officers and Protestors Proved Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Officers walked with protestors

Officers showed up to protect protestors supplies from being destroyed
New Jersey police showed up to walk with protestors


Officers showed up to pray with protestors
Officers showed up to talk to protestors

And here are more reports found on FORBES

In Some Cities, Police Officers Joined Protesters Marching Against Brutality


FORBES
Lisette Voytko
My 31, 2020
Police officers kneel during a rally in Coral Gables, Florida, on Saturday in response to the death ... [+] PHOTO BY EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

TOPLINE As protests sparked by George Floyd’s death entered their chaotic fifth day, social media filled with images and video of police officers using batons, tear gas and rubber bullets to quell crowds⁠—but some squads joined in with Saturday protesters to express their stance against police brutality, and to show solidarity with the anti-racism movement.

“We want to be with y’all, for real. I took my helmet off, laid the batons down. I want to make this a parade, not a protest,” Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson was seen telling protesters in Flint, Michigan, before he joined the assembled crowd to march, eliciting cheers.

Officers in Camden, New Jersey, helped carry a banner reading “Standing in Solidarity,” and seemed to join in with the crowd chanting “no justice, no peace.”

In Santa Cruz, California, Police Chief Andy Mills took a knee with protesters in the pose made famous by Colin Kaepernick, with the department tweeting it was “in memory of George Floyd & bringing attention to police violence against Black people.”

Two Kansas City, Missouri, police officers⁠—one white man, one black man⁠—were photographed holding aloft a sign reading “end police brutality.”
read it here
Orange County Sheriff's Office, Florida Now: John Mina, Orange County Sheriff and Chief Orlando Rolon, Orlando Police Department #TakeAKnee in solidarity with demonstrators. We share the grief in the killing of #GeorgeFloyd. We need to use these opportunities to come together and talk about these issues.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Not "tragically bound to the starless midnight"

Judge by the "content of their character"


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 30, 2020

Our nation is facing an epidemic of historical proportions. We have a pandemic claiming over 100,000 lives in a span of about 3 months. We have over 40 million unemployed. Healthcare workers are dying while trying to save lives while many other providers are losing their jobs. Protests to reopen the states have included individuals showing up with guns. Many people are regarding the pandemic as someone else's problem. We have racists, no longer ashamed of how they view fellow citizens. Native Americans are dealing with the virus killing them in higher number, poverty, lack of services, at the same time they are under threat of losing their lands. This is a nation in crisis.
“THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated”Thomas Paine, The Crisis
"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly." as Thomas Paine said so eloquently, applies to what this nation faces today. More and more people are forgetting how we got where we are and the price paid by generations who came before them. They forget that entire generations risked their lives in service to this country in times of war, as well as times of peace. They paid for the freedom so many others want to claim as their "right to enjoy" at the same time they want to remove the rights of others.

While those who entered the military were from all political sides, color, states and religious beliefs, they managed to set aside their differences and were willing to die for one another. We should take that to heart, especially now, but we have faced the crushing burdens before. The difference is, we learned from them.

In 1968, someone filled with hate assassinated Rev. King after he was willing to pay the price to achieve social justice for Black Americans, peacefully protesting and speaking out against using violence to respond to violence. I was alive then and remember it. Just as I was alive when President Kennedy was assassinated, and his brother Bobby was killed. Yet all of these men moved the majority of my generation to stop seeing people based on color of their skin. It was about the "content of their character" that mattered.

Looking at what is happening in this country right now, we have witnessed a reversal of that. Are there bad police officers? Yes, but not all police officers are bad, but while the majority are good, they are all being attacked for what the few bad ones do.

We see protestors flooding the streets, rioters and looters destroying property and burning down businesses in their communities during a pandemic. We see some others showing up to protest orders by the governors of their states with arms, attempting to intimidate their fellow citizens and politicians to yield the better judgement for the greater good to do their will. Are all protestors committing crimes? No, but again, they are all being blamed for what a few do.

“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.


While anger and fear have gripped this nation, we are forced to expand our view aways from what is on the news and see what else is happening to find signs of hope.
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality." Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The majority of people in this country are trying their best to do the right thing. Mankind is not "so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war" because there is "peace and brotherhood" still alive in the shadows of one of the worst times in this country.

People of all political sides, color, states and religious beliefs are stepping up for their fellow citizens and the greater good. People are regarding the "content of character" that requires a heart that will not judge anyone by anything else. Thoughts are motivating action to fight against hopelessness. Prayers are motivating action to help others suffering by finding way to do whatever they can for total strangers.

Yes, these are bleak times in this country, but we have been in darkness before. We survived those days because others stepped up refusing to accept what "was" because they dreamed of what could be.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Father and Son Marines Beat Enemy Together...Both Had COVID-19

SC veterans, father and son, battle COVID-19 together


WBTV News
By Jason Raven
May 29, 2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Thomas Bowman Jr. said in early April he began feeling under the weather.
Thankfully, both men have been released from the hospital and have made full recoveries. (Source: Family photo)
He originally thought it was his chronic sinusitis acting up. But on April 5, he began feeling worse and his symptoms were getting severe.

“The symptoms of COVID-19 had begun forming in my lungs. Headaches. Shortness of breath,” he said.

Bowman Jr. -- a Marine Corps veteran -- was admitted to the VA Hospital in Columbia. Bowman had pneumonia in his lungs and a high fever. He tested positive for COVID-19.

When he was talking with doctors, he remembered he had visited his mother and father a few days before he started to feel ill.

“Bowman Jr. had recently cut his own grass and his mother and father’s grass. He was very concerned they could possibly contract this illness,” Dr. Amy Lucas at the VA Hospital in Columbia said.

Bowman Jr. followed his father’s footsteps when he joined the United States Marine Corps. Now Thomas Bowman Sr., a Vietnam War veteran, followed his son’s footsteps when he also tested positive for COVID-19 and found himself hospitalized.
read it here

Thursday, May 28, 2020

"Meatball" wanted to become a Marine...lost 186 pounds to do it!

Marine infantry recruit drops 186 pounds to make it to boot camp


STARS AND STRIPES
By IMMANUEL JOHNSON
Published: May 28, 2020

Gabriel Ramirez spent his childhood dreaming of being a Marine, but that dream seemed unattainable as a 365-pound teen nicknamed “Meatball.”
Gabriel Mendez Ramirez lost 186 pounds on his way to becoming a Marine recruit. Ramirez, from Oceanside, Calif., graduated from Rancho Buena Vista High School last year and recently headed to boot camp.
BERNADETTE PLOUFFE/U.S. MARINE CORPS

This week, Ramirez, 18, was on his way to boot camp, 186 pounds lighter.

At the end of Ramirez’s sophomore year at Rancho Buena Vista High School in California, Marine recruiter Staff Sgt. Anna Rodrigues spoke to his class and later asked him about his interests.

“The kids I talk to, one thing I look for is heart,” Rodrigues said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I am looking for someone that won’t quit and will accept the challenge.”
read it here

What will you do when life is good again?

Life will be good again


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 28, 2020

There is no way of sugar coating it. Life sucks right now! Over 100,000 Americans died because of a pandemic and over a million have been infected. Over 40 million are unemployed now, businesses are closing for good and states struggle to figure out how to reopen things the best way possible. Too many people have dismissed the guidelines of how to stop the spread and only seem to care about enjoying themselves without regarding the other people in their lives they deliver the infection to.

Yes, things suck right now if you only look at what is wrong. Yet if you look at the flip side of all of this, there are many good things going on because people wondered what they could do to make life better for others.

People are stepping up and showing up, in whatever way they can. One of them is Dolly Parton.

Dolly Parton Donates a Million Dollars to Coronavirus Research at Vanderbilt but that is not all she has done. She is reading books to kids online. And last night, she put up a song she wrote to offer everyone hope that not only will life be good again...but they can be better people too!
Dolly Parton
When life is good again
I'll be a better friend
A bigger person when
Life is good again
More thoughtful than I've been
I'll be so different then
More in the moment when
Life is good again

I'll open up my heart
And let the whole world in
I'll try to make amends
When life is good again

We've been brought to our knees
We've been so ill at ease
There are no guarantees
But you know life goes on
This too shall pass away
Bring new and different days
We need to change our ways
And right our wrongs

Let's open up our hearts
And let the whole world in
Let's try to make amends
When life is good again
I'll open up my doors again
And hear the message in the wind
Repent of all my sins (Hallelujah)
When life is good again

I'll try to be someone
On which you can depend
A helping hand to lend
Let's open up our eyes
And see what's goin' on
If we're to move along
From where we've been

Let's open up our hearts
And let the love shine in (Shine in)
We've all got knees to bend
And we'll just pray 'til then
Ask God's forgiveness when
Life is good again

And it's gonna be good again
(It's gonna be, it's gonna be)
It's gonna be good again
It'll be alright (It'll be alright)

God's the reason for all things
You want rainbows, you get rain
We'll all be forever changed (Forever changed)
I'll sell my boat and fly my kite
Walk in the park, go out at night
And hold my loved ones extra tight
When everything is on the mend
I'll even drink with my old friends
Sing and play my mandolin
We'll make it through this long dark night
Darkness fades when faced with light
And everything's gonna be alright
When life is good again


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Black Rifle Coffee Company CEO refused to give up

Veteran founder of multimillion-dollar company: 'This is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life'


FOX
By Matt London
May 26, 2020

The founder and CEO of Black Rifle Coffee Company, Evan Hafer, said he would rather return to combat than face rebuilding his business again from scratch.

"This is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life and I'm a former Green Beret [who] spent seven years in combat zones," Hafer told veteran correspondent Lara Logan on her Fox Nation show "No Agenda with Lara Logan."

In Season 3 of "No Agenda," Logan investigates the current state of affairs of America's veterans through the eyes of those who served — from veteran entrepreneurs to those carrying out humanitarian missions, to wounded warriors on the front lines of the veteran suicide crisis.

Hafer started Black Rifle Coffee in his Salt Lake City garage five years ago. Prior to that, he spent about 300 days a year, for a decade, deployed to some of the most remote and hostile regions of the world, with both the U.S. special forces and the CIA.

Today, Black Rifle Coffee is one of the most successful veteran-owned businesses in America, though Hafer said the company nearly never made it.

"I remember I was in my garage sitting on a box and, you know, I'm like looking around and I have nothing else. And I was like starting to cry," said Hafer, recalling how he sold nearly everything he owned to keep his business afloat.

"For years, I told myself all these things, you know, like you're a special forces guy, you're CIA, you know, 1 percent of 1 percent. Why can't I make this work?" he told Logan, explaining that he reached a turning point.
read it here

UK: Homeless veteran has way to make positive changes

Homeless army veteran gifted bicycle by Essex Police


Epping Forest Guardian UK
By Lewis Berrill
May 26, 2020


“I finally feel as though my life is beginning to get back on track. It’s now up to me to push myself and make positive changes.” 


34-year-old army veteran Jaime was gifted a bike by Essex Police. Photo: Essex Police

Jamie had been sleeping on the streets after leaving the armed forces but with the support of military veteran charity Project Nova has been housed in emergency accommodation in Grays.
On Monday, May 18 the 34-year-old veteran asked the charity to help him find a push bike.
Project Nova launched an appeal and within 48 hours, Detective Inspector Rob Staples and Inspector Matt Crow of Essex Police located one in Harlow.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Exit12's veteran movement workshop started by Marine

'I WAS A MARINE IN IRAQ, NOW I TEACH BALLET TO WAR VETERANS'


Newsweek
BY ROMÁN BACA
5/15/20

I grew up in a household where we were driven to help other people. My grandparents would go out of their way for others, even if it affected their own happiness and prosperity. And so this feeling of needing to be of help to others is probably part of my DNA.

In high school I had a friend who was a ballerina and I was intrigued, so I started taking classes—ballet, tap and jazz. The call of ballet was so interesting because it was so physical and yet so intricate and smart at the same time.

Exit12 Dance Company, which I co-founded in 2007, works predominantly with, and for, veterans of war. Sadly, all our 2020 tours have been cancelled or postponed because of COVID-19.
Román Baca, artist, choreographer and US Marine Iraq War Veteran, pictured in Iraq in 2006. ROMAN BACA

After losing two of my Marines to suicide in 2011, I started to develop Exit12's veteran movement workshop, Movement to Contact. We invite veterans to work with us and go through one of our movement workshops. Initially these were designed to rebuild the feeling of self and a sense of trust and teamwork. But a lot of veterans were reporting that they were also being inspired creatively. The workshops allowed them to create, choreograph and think imaginatively, and they would say, "wow! I did that! I wonder what else i could do with my life?"

We had one army veteran who served for the U.S. in the Vietnam War. He would self-report that the army trained him how to kill, that he was a killer, a shell he's been trying to shed his whole life. He came to a couple of our workshops and he did a couple of writing workshops with another veterans' organization. And now in his hometown, he is a peer veteran counsellor.

When I got into dance, I was drawn towards the story ballets that had impact and purpose. At university, we performed a piece by Antony Tudor called Dark Elegies. It's a piece where the children in a community die in a tragedy. We interpreted it as them playing on the beach and getting swept away by a huge wave.
read it here
Find more inspirational stories here

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Suicides end when others break their own silence

Miracles after attempted suicides prevented

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
May 17, 2020

Stories collected from Wounded Times

In 2007, Owen Wilson attempted suicide and it was big news, and spread around the world. At the same time, we were facing 948 attempted active duty suicides, along with 99 who lost their lives. It was also the year when many survivors faced charges. A female reservists was facing charges after she survived. She tired again, and again, she survived. The charges against her were dropped and her story showed that her mental health crisis had been pushed aside by her superiors.
"I Sat around numerous times with a .44 in my mouth. But for some reason, I just couldn't pull the trigger. I don't know why." said a 57 year old veteran who had attempted it three more times.
Not long afterwards reports of veterans attempted suicides had grown more than "patient count" in the VA. The eyeopener in this piece of news was the age groups who topped the numbers from 2000-2007. 20-24 year old attempts went from 11 to 47 per year. 55-59 year old attempts also went up from 19 to 117.

By April of 2008, the reports on attempted suicides were increased to 1,000 per month in the VA system.

And then something amazing started to happen. Veterans were talking about their own pain so that others would understand it is not all doom and gloom. 

Two years later, veterans were trying to do whatever they could to change the outcome and encourage veterans to seek healing instead of suffering. That is what Jeremiah Workman did as the recipient of the Navy Cross.
He went on to write "Shadow of the Sword: A Marine's Journey of War, Heroism, and Redemption"
read more here