Warrior rebuilt

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Marine veteran receives service dog Saturday

Berlin took to liking Beth Wiggins in no time.

Wiggins, a Marine Corps veteran, was given a service dog on May 13 through Rebuilding Warriors at a service dog dedication ceremony at Unity Baptist Church.

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Rebuilding Warriors is a foundation that provides service and companion dogs to honorably discharged veterans. The veterans are diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder, TBI and or amputation.

Wiggins served four years active as a military police officer and was a contractor over seas. Once she was discharged, she served as a contractor for Airbus as a security supervisor.

“I was doing that when my accident happened,” she said. “I was on my way to work, and I had just come off the Dolly Parton Bridge.”

Almost two years ago, Wiggins was driving her motorcycle, checked her speed and noticed there was a car coming off the bridge at a high rate of speed. She put on her hazards and eased off the road.

“As I did that, he hit me,” she said. “I remember immediately going airborne and I thought I’d better go limp because this is going to hurt.”

Training took over as Wiggins crossed her legs, tucked her arm and braced for impact.

“I don’t remember the actual impact; I remember flipping and then stopping,” she said. “Then, the next thing I know (I experienced) the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt.”

Wiggins’ legs were in the roadway and were run over by the speeding vehicle.

The next thing she did was mustered the strength to roll over. As she was laying there, Wiggins said she started hearing music.

“I had my phone on Bluetooth and I started digging in my jacket and found my phone,” she said.

With her hand messed up pretty bad, she managed to call her mother. Wiggins told her mother to call 911 and told her where she was.

“I laid there for a minute and then my phone rang,” Wiggins said. “She called again and said your dad is on his way.

“About that time, I remember movement. This gentleman was there with his wife. I remember looking and asking how does it look? He said, ‘not good at all.’ I said a prayer, and said specifically, ‘Dear Lord, be with me. Make sure I make it because I need to get home to Eli.’ That’s my main priority is Eli.”

The ambulance arrived, Wiggins was loaded and taken to the University of South Alabama Medical Center.

“I remember we got there and they yelled for the trauma surgery,” she said. “I remember laying there and looking up at the lights. I looked over and the nurse has her mask on and putting on her gown. She said, ‘we’ve got you.’”

From then on, Wiggins said she doesn’t remember anything else until she had her amputation surgery. In fact, she said it wasn’t until Sept. 20, 2015, until she started remembering things.

Her accident took place on Sept. 1, 2015. Wiggins was discharged from the hospital on Oct. 2, and stayed at Mobile Infirmary until Oct. 30, 2015.

While there, Wiggins went through physical therapy six days a week at four hours a day.

Wiggins went home once her therapy was done, and stood up for the first time on Jan. 4, 2016.

Wiggins later started physical therapy with the Adaptive Training Foundation, a foundation that customizes training for each individual needs.

Wiggins said she loved ATF because it put her through the ringer.

“I loved it because it gave me my confidence and I could get back in the gym again,” she said. “I did that and was there from mid January until the end of March.”

While training with the ATF, Wiggins met Jeff Anderson, the CEO and founder of Rebuilding Warriors.

“It’s just been one blessing after another, and I’m beyond thankful for everything God’s put in my life,” she said.

Anderson said RW purchases the dogs and hires trainers to train the dogs. Most of the service dogs that have been given away are shepherds.

Berlin, Wiggins’ service dog, is a Malamois, a Belgian Shepherd, and will serve as a companion dog.

“I met Jeff in the gym, and I’ve been looking forward to this companionship so much,” she said.

Anderson said last year, RW gave 20 service dogs to veterans, and they are on tap to give away 21 this year.

When asked where she has gotten her strength from, Wiggins said she has gotten it from God.

“My strength and courage comes from the Lord,” she said. “I believe that.”