DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — Destin resident and U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Joe Deslauriers lost both his legs and his left arm trying to save the lives of fellow service members while serving in Afghanistan.
His actions earned him the Silver Star but his recovery was a time in his life he didn’t think he would be able to get through.
However, with the help of one program, he turned his depression into his own business and hopes his story can motivate those who might be going through a similar situation.
“September 23 of 2011. I lost both my legs above the knee and my left arm just below the elbow.”Sgt. Joe Deslauriers
Deslauriers served two tours of duty in Afghanistan also serving in Iraq, Kuwait and Kosovo.
He tells WKRG News 5 he’s been a fighter his whole life, but this was something his years of training never prepared him for.
“My second battle started. You know I was over there fighting the Taliban and now my fight was for survival and to recover,” says Sgt. Deslauriers.
On top of trying to recover physically and mentally – his wife was 8 months pregnant and was expecting his first child.
Sgt. Deslauriers says, “You know I always wanted to be a father and husband. That was one of my biggest goals and now I have to do it as a triple amputee.”
Not knowing what the rest of his life would be like he went through a deep depression.
“I spent a lot of time on the couch and trying to figure of things and where I would be and then I finally said that’s it I need to do something now,” Sgt. Deslauriers says.
His caseworker suggested he go to Semper Fi & America’s Fund Apprenticeship Program, and that’s where he found a passion that got him out of his depression. Sgt. Deslauriers then started his own metal engraving business.
“It got me off the couch. It got me out and got me going to local businesses.”Sgt. Joe Deslauriers
Deslauriers now has clients from all over the country and wants everyone to know you can get through anything you set your mind to.
Sgt. Deslauriers says, “There’s a lot of people like me and whether you are missing limbs or not… Take a chance. You have to take that chance.”
Deslauriers says he couldn’t have done it without the help of the Semper Fi & America’s Fund and encourages any former service member to reach out to them.
The program provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support for combat wounded, ill, and injured service members during their time of recovery and transition back into civilian life. The Fund provides assistance to all branches of the US Armed Forces and their families.
They will also be hosting a virtual auction to raise money for all the service members they help, for more information, click here.