Invictus Games help injured ADF personnel through their darkest days
Jesse Costello's dreams of being a fighter pilot in the Australian Air Force were dashed when he sustained serious injuries in an Australian Defence Force (ADF) bus crash in 2015.
Mr Costello was scalped and suffered facial lacerations, when the bus he was travelling in rolled near Goulburn in southern New South Wales. Around 50 ADF Academy personnel were on board.
"We were coming back along a route that was notorious for being dangerous … I saw the ground approach my face and then about an hour occurred when apparently I was conscious, but I don't remember that," he said.
Mr Costello said his heart stopped. After he was resuscitated, he remembered asking the paramedics to contact his parents before he was airlifted to Canberra hospital.
Following the crash, Mr Costello was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic amnesia, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The 23-year-old from north-east Victoria said he endured some of his darkest days following that crash.
"It has taken a lot to overcome what happened … even now and it has been nearly three years," he said.
Eventually, he applied to compete at the Invictus Games.
"I ignored calls to attempt to try out for the Invictus Games in Toronto because I didn't think I deserved it … [I thought] that I wasn't broken enough or injured enough," he said.
He said sport saved his life.
"Sport has just been a constant. I felt so small and it made sure I had something to look forward to."
Mr Costello will compete in the swimming, athletics and rowing, when the Games begin in Sydney next week.
"It's about giving it my all. Yes, winning would be great, but just crossing the finish line represents all the efforts I have put in, both on the track and in my lifestyle," he said.
He said he was, in part, frustrated by the fact that people did not tend to think about sport for all abilities except during the Paralympics and special events like the Invictus Games.
"It's a difficult area because it's a very small and particular portion of the population," he said.
"Things like the Invictus Games are helping with that. When people see our affiliation [with the Games] they do ask … so, what are the Invictus Games?
It's annoying, but it's understandable and I'm happy to educate people."
Mr Costello said representing Australia meant one thing to him — recovery.
"It means I'm taking a step in the right direction."
Shining a light on invisible scars
Shepparton-born Trudi Lines will also be donning the green and gold at the Games, which run from October 20 – 27.
She retired from the military last year after suffering injuries to her neck, lower back and ankles after her deployment to Afghanistan. She was also diagnosed with PTSD.
Ms Lines said she was happy the Invictus Games shone a light not only on physical disabilities but mental conditions as well.
"[Invictus] will hopefully help with the stigma that's behind PTSD. There's so much people don't understand about how it works," she said.
"A lot of people could look at me and think, 'Oh you look normal, what's wrong with you?'
"Sometimes it's those invisible scars that you have that people just don't understand."
She too said sport helped her during her darkest days.
"The main reason I actually applied for Invictus — I guess what it's all about — was to assist with my rehabilitation," she said.
"I didn't realise just how important sport was in my life.
"Just because you can't necessarily do the sport that you always loved, that doesn't mean there aren't other opportunities … that's what Invictus is all about."