Homecoming for a hero: veteran released from hospital after 105-day battle with COVID-19

Updated: Mar. 24, 2021 at 12:00 AM MST
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SAHUARITA, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -A local veteran is home with his family for the first time in more than 100 days.

On December 6, John Whetstone was diagnosed with COVID-19. Two days later, the 52-year-old was admitted to the Tucson VA Medical Center.

“Doctors said that they were thinking [he would be there] maybe three to five days,” said Jennifer Whetstone, John’s wife. “[It’s been] 105 days.”

COVID-19 quickly led to pneumonia and a lung collapse. John spent 80 days on a ventilator and was even put in a medically induced coma. Jennifer remembers being told to prepare for the worst.

“There were times where you just couldn’t pray because you just couldn’t get the words out,” she said. “I just had to trust that somebody knew what I was thinking … and never asking why this happened, but just ‘help me get through it’.”

Faith, hope and lots of support got Jennifer through.

“His health care workers were the ones who held his hand when I couldn’t,” she said. “And I watched nurses cry and their tears hit his chest.”

For John, the last three months are a blur. However, the man who fought for our country; serving for 24 years including a deployment to Afghanistan, knew he needed to fight for his family. He says it was the biggest battle of his life.

“[I fought for] my wife, the kids and a grandkid on the way,” he said. “I just wasn’t ready to die yet.”

After a turnaround family and doctors describe as “miraculous”, John rolled out of Encompass Health Tuesday afternoon on cloud nine, breathing in the victory that has given him more time.

John missed Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Jennifer’s 50th birthday and the announcement of a new grandchild on the way. He looks forward to celebrating the next milestone.

“In June, we are going to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary,” John said.

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