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PTSD and a Path to Education

After a 15-month deployment, online education became a lifeline in Joseph's struggle with PTSD

Fearful. Lonely. Anxious. Depressed. Overwhelmed. Abandoned.

As a result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), these feelings are common for Joseph Kaitschuck, who has lived with them for more than 10 years. But obtaining an education through BYU-Pathway Worldwide has helped Joseph combat these feelings and achieve more than he ever thought possible.

An unexpected event forced Joseph to do something different

Did you know?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) most commonly occurs when an individual is exposed to trauma or injury. Here are some facts about PTSD based on the U.S. population 1 :
  • About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will have PTSD at some point in their lives
  • About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year

When Joseph returned home from his 15-month deployment in Iraq, he quickly discovered that the reality of war was easier to deal with than the adjustment of returning home. The physical and emotional effects of PTSD made every day a constant struggle to live a happy, normal life.

“I have struggled through trials before, but nothing had ever reached the magnitude of deep sorrow as PTSD,” Joseph said.

During that time, he was also called to be a counselor in the bishopric of his ward. He still struggled with PTSD, though, and was skeptical of his ability to serve. However, Joseph trusted that the calling was meant for him and that God would help him succeed. As a member of the bishopric, Joseph heard several presentations on the new PathwayConnect program, but it wasn’t until he unexpectedly lost his job that he considered the program for himself.

Since he had never received a university degree, Joseph felt his chances of getting reliable employment to provide for his family would be slim. He knew he had to take action. Through much prayer and support from friends and family, Joseph enrolled in PathwayConnect.

Despite his PTSD, what Joseph did taught him a very valuable lesson

Joseph Kaitschuck
“I never thought I would get in a place where I could control my PTSD and get a bachelor’s degree from a Church university.”

As Joseph attended PathwayConnect gatherings in Auburn, Washington, he felt the members of his gathering become like a second family as they encouraged each other to grow and succeed in their classes and in the gospel.

“The PathwayConnect gatherings brought spiritual concepts more into every aspect of my life,” Joseph said. “It was in those gatherings and through those individuals that I realized why God needed me to be in the program.”

Throughout his schooling, Joseph continued to struggle with symptoms of PTSD, which often made his coursework difficult to complete. The anxiety of not measuring up to expectations would often try to overcome Joseph, but he took this as an opportunity to rely on his testimony and knowledge that through Christ, anything was possible.

Joseph accomplished something he thought he would never do

Joseph completed PathwayConnect in 2014 and immediately began working toward an online bachelor’s degree through BYU-Idaho. He completed his degree in December 2016 in business management with an emphasis in entrepreneurship — ranking in the top 5% of his graduating class.

Joseph enjoying an evening with his wife and daughter
Joseph enjoying an evening with his wife and daughter.

The gospel-based education in PathwayConnect and BYU-Idaho brought Joseph closer to Christ and helped him realize that he could control the PTSD symptoms he experienced.

“I thought these goals were impossible for me to attain,” Joseph recalled. “I never thought I would get in a place where I could control my PTSD and get a bachelor’s degree from a Church university. ”

Because of his experiences, Joseph enjoys a better quality of life

Joseph now works as a Global Security Operations Center Supervisor for a security company in Washington. In his position, he has been able to incorporate the lessons he learned throughout PathwayConnect and his online degree courses. The concepts of teamwork and leadership have helped him bring a Christ-like leadership into his position.

“I continue to encourage anyone I meet to enroll in PathwayConnect and start an online degree and see what it can do for them,” Joseph said. “This program has been such a blessing to me and has helped me provide for myself and family professionally, financially and spiritually — I know it could do the same for them.”

An education through BYU-Pathway Worldwide offers opportunities for intellectual, spiritual, and professional growth. Visit to find out how you could benefit from increased education.