Wounded veteran helping build homes gets one of his own
By Melissa Mahadeo, Reporter -
For Army Spc. Robert "BJ" Jackson, Tuesday's groundbreaking ceremony wasn't just about his future home. It was about giving back to the community.
Jackson lost his legs in Iraq in 2003 after his Humvee ran over a roadside bomb in Baghdad.
"When I woke up, all I could remember was calling out for my wife and daughters," he said.
He never took the time to grieve. Instead, he immediately began searching for ways to help others in his position. He went on to become a motivational speaker to veterans around the country. He also joined Building Homes for Heroes and helped President Andy Pujol build home after home, year after year -- and never asking for help.
"The best part for myself and my family is educating children that there are service members that are coming home different, but that's OK," Jackson said.
"BJ is really an exception to the rule. The first soldier I met that returned home from Iraq was BJ Jackson," Pujol said. "He looked me in the eye and he said, 'I'd prefer to help other soldiers.' "
That is, until the bills piled up, and Jackson's health took a downturn the past couple of years.
He now uses prosthetics to get around. But the secondary effects linger, and brain injuries caused by his accident have started to interfere with his life.
"It kind of opened my eyes that this is an ongoing thing I am going to have to deal with this the rest of my life," Jackson said.
Now, the organization he helped for years is building him a home.
But in typical Jackson stride, he said he will be helping to build it along the way. So will his wife and six kids.