Army Veteran Shoots Herself In The Face And Lives To Tell The Story: How She Took On Her PTSD. And Won.

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AJ Richards and Cleo Deloner

“At some point I threatened to kill my partner and myself.  I was put in the psych ward and 

diagnosed with PTSD.”

Cleo DeLoner has a very powerful story to share. She is an Army Veteran and former police officer who sunk so deep into depression and PTSD, that she tried to take her own life.  

“I took a long rifle and a loaded magazine, drove out to a river (… ) held the rifle to my face and pulled the trigger.  It broke all of the bones in my face and I never lost consciousness,” DeLoner explains.  “I walked around for a while and ended up driving to get help.”

Remarkably, DeLoner was able to get behind the wheel and flag down a woman for help.  

“After the impact and I realized I was alive and I thought to myself — wow, I did it.  Oh my God I am still alive,” DeLoner says.  “I think the human spirit goes into survival mode and I started taking steps to get myself help.”

Never before had she seen someone walking on that remote road near the river 15 minutes from her home, and DeLoner says in that moment she thought the woman might be an angel.

It seems, in many ways, she was.

“I stumbled toward her kind of like the characters on Walking Dead.”

The woman drove DeLoner to the hospital and while her life was spared, there was an agonizing journey ahead.

DeLoner says she was hospitalized 32 times, endured electric shock therapy, and was on multiple psych pills.  She was alive — yes, but she was far from healed.  Nothing was working.

And then DeLoner received a phone call about bio-feedback and neuro-feedback therapy.  She flew to Bethesda, Maryland to check it out and says it changed everything.

After 25 treatments, DeLoner says all of her symptoms, including debilitating PTSD, were eliminated and she weaned herself off of what she calls “zombie dope”, the psych meds and painkillers that she thought she’d be taking for the rest of her life.  

After that, DeLoner was put in touch with AJ Richards, owner of CrossFit Mesa and founder of Rush Club.  Richards, a fellow Veteran, embraced the mission of healing and welcomed DeLoner into his community of veterans and civilians who are all seeking out health and purpose in their lives.

“What we keep hearing over and over is that painkillers don’t work they just dull you until you are just done. These medicines don’t seem to be working for most people,” Richards says.  

DeLoner, now a writer and public speaker, wants to share her story with the masses.

Recently Richards and DeLoner teamed up to speak to the Arizona Coalition, a group of Veterans who wanted to hear more of DeLoner’s story — and who embraced the message, “you are not your diagnosis.”

“I actually prayed to God and thanked him for not letting me die.  I forgave myself for such a brutal assault on myself,” DeLoner says.  “I feel a sense of responsibility to my Warrior brothers and sisters.  I am living proof that there is hope that if they take that step into the light from the darkness.  There is hope.”

Links mentioned in this podcast


Here is a poem from DeLoner’s book, “Trigger Pieces”:


I have many aliases

Soldier’s Heart

Battle Fatigue

Shell Shock


I am like no enemy you have ever fought

I control you

I own you

I insert horrific memories in your head at my beck and call

I watch you from a distance

As your eyes stare at nothing

I startle you back to reality  

I freeze the most graphic images in your mind

Forcing you to witness the horror over and over again

I fuel your rage

I fuel your hatred

I take you close in my arms

Away from everyone who cares about you

I am jealous

When I have you isolated, all to myself

My relentless assault intensifies

My voice is all that you will hear

I will convince you that you are



A burden

Unloved and


I will bring you to your knees

You will try to crawl your way out of the maze of confusion

Until you collapse face down

All the while I scream at you to end it

I will drive you to a depth of darkness so deep

No amount of light will penetrate

I will envelope you in total and utter unimaginable despair

The emptiness you feel carries a thousand echoes of the suffering that I inflict

You will make futile attempts to silence me

With your pathetic pills

Your bottles of booze

You will believe that I have retreated

But I am still with you

Waiting, watching, patiently

Your staggering drunkenness

Brings you to a state of unconsciousness

You are right where I want you

I now bring you the images in full color

I add the sounds of screams

Hovering over you

I watch as you twitch

Toss and turn

Punch the air

Cling to your blankets

And scream, “No!”

I drench you in cold sweat

Forcing you to awaken sitting straight up

As you gasp for air

You don’t like to talk about me to your loved ones

Why would you want to?

How would you describe me?

Am I just a voice in your head?

Am I the monster who has taken up residence in your mind?

Better to just stay quiet

Keep this affair between us

I have convinced you that they don’t care

That I’m the only one who cares

I’ll never leave you alone

This road that we stumble down together

Is a road I walk with many

I sabotage every relationship they have

Their loved ones retreat

Leaving them lonely

They fought me

They fought hard

In the end they all succumb to me

You will to

You have embraced me without even knowing it

I have you in the corner of darkness

Providing you with an instrument of death

I have encouraged you

Guided you

Defeated you

Now I can sit back

And watch your sad finale



Cleo DeLoner

27, Sept. 2015

1709-1811 hrs.