GOOD NEWS 'She Saved Me': Vet Says Service Dog Helped Him Overcome Suicidal Thoughts
A Marine veteran credits his service dog with helping him overcome his suicidal thoughts, depression and anger issues.
John Welch, who served in the Marines in the 1980s, told Today that he met his service dog, Onyx, in April, and she totally changed his life.
"I was an angry guy," Welch said. "If you cut me off in your car, I was going to your house. But now I stay in the right lane. I'm like Mr. Magoo."
Welch, who attempted suicide on four separate occasions, noted that roughly 20 veterans die by suicide every day, figures he said are heartbreaking.
"They're wounds of war that are far removed from the war," Welch said of suicides among veterans. "It's like a bullet that finally found its mark... but it's self-inflicted."
He said that he hopes his story shows other vets going through tough times that there is hope.
"There are answers; there is hope," he said. "But the heaviest weight to lift is the door to the help you need. These Marines... they live in the darkness. They don't want to open that door."
He said that everything changed for him when he found out about America's VetDogs, an organization that pairs service animals with veterans in need of physical or emotional support.
Onyx isn't specifically trained in suicide prevention, but she helps comfort Welch when he has nightmares or becomes stressed.
“Within a few days of knowing this dog, I found what was missing in my recovery,” Welch said. “She saved me."