Matthew Kosto has an honest, if not blunt, catchphrase: Life doesn’t suck. It’s a mantra that took on a new meaning for him after he lost his right leg in a motor vehicle accident in 2021.
“When I was going through my initial recovery process, I had a bunch of bracelets made up with that motto,” he said. “And when I run into people having hard times, I give them one and offer some perspective on my life, which really helps them out.”
Kosto retired from the Air Force in 2016 after 20 years of maintaining F-15 Eagle and A-10 Thunderbolt II jet aircraft. His service spanned the globe, with visits repeatedly bouncing him between Alaska and Korea, throughout the Middle East and Afghanistan, and all over the Pacific, he said.
When it was time to hang up his uniform for good, the service-disabled veteran settled on a familiar duty working on the A-10 as a civil service engineering representative at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.
That’s where his life changed forever.
Kosto was riding into work on his Harley-Davidson when a pickup truck struck the motorcycle from behind. He careened down the road, which caused him to lose his lower leg that day and begin his journey toward a new normal as a below-the-knee amputee.
As a self-described “pretty stubborn military veteran,” Kosto didn’t want his newfound physical limitations to keep him from his beloved mountains and desert of southern Arizona.
“When I first met with the VA prosthetics team, I said I wanted to be able to do more without a leg than I did with two,” said Kosto. “I'm trying to be as active and as positive as possible about my disability.”
When physical therapists at the Department of Veterans Affairs encouraged Kosto to apply to the National Disabled Veteran Winter Sports Clinic, he didn’t hesitate.
This is Kosto’s first time attending the clinic, and he is most looking forward to trying something new.
“I lived in Alaska for 11 years, but I didn’t really get into skiing,” he added. “So I want to give it a try.”
Although he typically reserves his coveted “Life Doesn’t Suck” bracelets for wounded active-duty airmen during resiliency stand-downs on base, Kosto said he’d have a few available at the clinic if another disabled veteran needs an uplift.