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Veteran encourages others to share their stories to heal

Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 4:49 PM AKST
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WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) -Every person who’s served their country has a unique story to share.

Josh Nestler remembers the World War II tales his grandfather would tell him, and he shared them with the audience gathered at the Veterans' Wall of Honor in Wasilla on Veteran’s Day.

He recalled one story from Pearl Harbor.

“The guns were on one side and the ammunition was clear across the other side of the compound and having to run through the pineapple fields and having his legs cut up by the pineapple plants. He still had the scars when he passed,” Nestler said.

Nestler settled in Alaska after he retired from the U.S. Army.

While he was never suicidal, Nestler said he reached a dark place in his life after he returned from deployment.

“I had no zest. I had no feelings, I just didn’t care, there was nothing. Of course, that affected my support network, people that were trying to help me. I just didn’t care,” he said.

Now, he’s getting his master’s degree in social work to help others who might be feeling the same way.

Alaska has a higher rate of veteran suicide than the national average, and Nestler wants people to know there are resources out there for them.

“That’s my path to healing and being able to stand up here and encourage other veterans to find outlets, to not just self-isolate and become a statistic. Get out, check in on your buddies, check in on each other,” he said.

He wants people to take time to listen and lend support to those who have sacrificed so much by serving the country.

Veterans can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to talk with a responder from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are also able to get help at the Veterans Crisis Hotline at 1-877-838-2838 or on the hotline website here.

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