Oshkosh, Wisconsin (WFRV) – “I told myself that if I saw something that would help me or would help me, I would take it,” recalled Joe Wester.
For a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, that beacon turned out to be man’s best friend, a dog named Betsy.
After nearly 12 years in the Coast Guard, Wester faced a tragic accident that changed his life. Suffering from physical and mental trauma, he doesn’t know what will happen next.
“It was. I still had some medical issues, some injuries that were still healing, and once I got the DD214, I was out,” Wester said. “I didn’t really have a life before the service. I was in high school. So I didn’t have the ability to mature outside the military. That was where I matured,” he recalls.
It lost Wester.
“I made a plan to end my life…I was going to take my life. I couldn’t find a way out of that hole. It was so dark,” Wester said.
And the soda cup he drank at Firehouse Subs in Oshkosh probably saved his life the day he decided to commit suicide. The cup featured an ad for his K9s For Warriors, an organization that pairs veterans with service dogs like Betsy.
“I looked at the cup and it seems like a big emotional thing. It seemed
He joined the program with K9s for Warriors and ended up with his now full-time buddy, Betsy. Wester started looking at his life through a different lens.
“I wouldn’t have survived,” he recalled. “Without the cup and the phone, I wouldn’t be here. We are now able to work together like this,” says Wester.
And they work together every day. Betsy travels to work with Wester on her job as a designer of tools for Oshkosh Defense. She’s there when you need it, and Wester also wants other vets who struggle to know there’s help when they need it.
“Speaking up is a very powerful thing. It not only frees yourself, but it also allows others to come in. And sometimes it needs to happen. For me, when I need support I needed to know that there were others out there who could support me,” Wester said.
If you or someone you know is suffering or in danger, please call or text 988 for a suicide and crisis lifeline.To connect with K9s for Warriors , click here.
https://www.wkrg.com/news/coast-guard-vet-turns-life-around-with-help-from-four-legged-friend/ Coast Guard veterinarian turns life around with help from four-legged friend