Since the beginning of time, humanity has had an obsession with the sky. In the eyes of these early civilizations, the sky was a mystical, endless beauty that made them dream of having wings. But for modern civilizations, our ability to fly shows the sky in a different light. It represents humanity’s endless sense of innovation and adventure. Jacob Costas may have had an entirely different view of the sky at a few thousand feet off the ground.
“While the plane was falling, all I could think about were the things I wish I would have accomplished in my life,” Costas said. The military veteran was returning to duty in Iraq after having his mid-tour leave when his plane nearly crashed after losing all power and catching on fire.
“The next time my life flashes before my eyes, I do not want to have any regrets,” the Davenport native said. However, the skies weren’t always a near death sentence for him. He actually has ample experience in skydiving because he used to be a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division.
Costas is a graduate student in the master’s of criminal justice program. He says that this experience alongside his four years in the Army as a ranger, and his current duties with the Army Reserve, have allowed him to see a different perspective to life.
“I know what I am capable of and I accept nothing less than the absolute best,” he said.
The second generation Ambrosian has used this strength to advocate a cause he is passionate for among his fellow veterans. As a child, Costas says he felt the calling to serve, only becoming more determined to enlist after September 11th. But after living his dream and coming home, Costas began having post traumatic stress disorder symptoms. He stopped himself from seeking treatment because he believed this would hinder him from his career aspiration of being a police officer.
“Even if I cannot become a police officer because of it, I am glad to say I am working through these issues and am in a much better place because of the treatment I have received,” he said.
Yet, another part of Costas was afraid to admit he had PTSD because he was ashamed of the stigma it may carry until he realized what PTSD means to him.
“Having PTSD does not make me a bad person, it simply means bad things have happened to me,” he said.
Accepting that he has PSTD was his first step in this battle. Now, he takes medication and meets with a psychologist where he is able to talk about his experiences and develop ways in which he can cope or even prevent thoughts that may initiate his symptoms.
“A mental health diagnosis is merely a cluster of symptoms with a name, it does not define a person,” Costas said.
He hasn’t stopped fighting or dreaming because he says that if he can’t be a police officer, he has considered being a psychologist or a homicide detective. He encourages veterans to seek treatment if they are having problems.
“Recovery is possible, but only if you are willing to fight for it the way you fought for our country,” he said.