Marine veteran John Welch had been dwelling on suicidal thoughts. If not for his service dog, Onyx, life would have been devastating.
Welch, a New Yorker, served the Marines during the 1980s. And war had left an indelible mark in his consciousness.
The 53-year-old veteran admitted through an interview with TODAY that he had been hot headed after the war. When he drives and someone cut the traffic, he would go to the house of the driver and confront the person. But something changed his outlook in life.
Welch was thankful for America’s VetDogs, an organization that finds service dogs for veterans. The aim is to provide help and emotional support to veterans who had witnessed a difficult life.
“I watched Marines die. And really, I wasn’t angry that God took them, but that he didn’t take me. I almost would have preferred to be in a box with a flag on it. How do I go home, standing on two feet? There’s a term for it: survivor’s guilt. And it’s very common. I have an ongoing feeling of never having done enough. I wasn’t afraid to die. The true problem is that I was afraid to live,” he recalled.
Welch served in Central America, Beirut and Lebanon. After his assignments, he admitted to feeling alienated.
He attempted suicide four times. Looking back, he felt grateful to have the chance to see life in a different perspective.
Welch is now accompanied by Onyx, a black Labrador. Onyx would wake him up when he has nightmares. If he feels stressed and disconcerted, Onyx would stay by his side and look at him with thoughtful eyes. For Welch, Onyx is a savior.
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