Almer (Al) Jackson is a 65-year-old Vietnam-era veteran, who was deemed by the Veterans Administration (VA) to be 100% disabled by PTSD and other service-connected mental health and physical issues. TODAY, he has been fully restored.
Al first came in contact with the VA in the fall of 1973 after a military discharge in the spring of that same year. He sat in a waiting area crowded with discharged soldiers like himself. At closing time, he was told to come back the next day without ever being seen. After returning several times with the same results, he spoke to the receptionist who explained he did not qualify for, nor did he need, any services. He was to go home and see a family doctor if he thought something was wrong.
For years Al struggled. PTSD, insomnia, chronic migraines, and extreme depression gripped Al’s existence. He was in such a downhill spiral that he knew he needed help to stop. He also knew he was not alone; many veterans had the same problems. Something had to change.
By 1985, Al could no longer effectively work or function in society. He watched like a numbed observer as his career in the corporate world and ministry ended. His family suffered and soon disintegrated. Drugs and alcohol gradually took a bigger and bigger role, almost to the point of taking over. His life, in general, had morphed into something unrecognizable. In 1996, Al returned to the VA. The caring doctors and staff helped Al with his health, finances, and hope. He was grateful for the help, but the thirteen medications he was prescribed began to lead him down a new and darker path.
He was prescribed psychotropics, sleep meds, migraine meds, cholesterol meds, weight meds, and the list went on. Excessive medication and mis-medication began to bring as much devastation to his life as the service-connected issues. Al took so much medication he no longer remembered his grandchildren’s names or how to make a sandwich. His weight dropped to 113 pounds, and he became suicidal. He knew he had to change his life, the way he thought about his life. He needed a change – mind, body, and spirit. His turn-around began in 2004.
Al wants to share this turnaround with veterans and their families, to see them happy again. It’s possible! Today, Al is free of all drugs and alcohol. He has HOPE for the future. His family is solid. Laughter and joy have returned to his home, and dread is no longer a resident there. After 40 years of medicated sleep – everything offered through the VA system – Al now sleeps with no medication whatsoever. He awakens refreshed and rested, excited about what tomorrow holds. He has learned to live a good life – healthy, happy, successful, prosperous, and free from the physical limitations and fears of the past. He can finally really live!
Though Al is grateful for the VA and never wishes to take away from their mission, he knows it takes a lot more than medicine to get where he is today. He understands that civilians and veterans alike must step forward to assist the VA with helping veterans and their families move forward with dignity and good health. Veterans Hope Center is committed to helping veterans and their families live a full, blessed, productive, and prosperous life. By God’s grace and direction, we will all move forward with hope and success.
Connie Jackson, Almer’s wife, understands the struggles and trials of the military family, the importance of resuming an ordinary life as a civilian, while assisting in the adjustment and re-adjustment of a discharged partner or family member.
Connie experienced life as a military wife during her first marriage and often had to relocate due to changes in PCS orders. She lived in Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Hamburg, Germany; and, finally, Fort Hood, Texas. Constant relocation and deployment brought challenges personally and to her family. Connie remembers having stresses of her own: the care young children, no family support system after deployment around the globe, the challenges of language limitations abroad, the lack of employment opportunities for spouses, and even the financial hardships common place in military families. These challenges did not end with discharge or relocation but rather continued unaddressed post-discharge. Though Almer had been discharged many years prior to marrying Connie, she could relate to him and the many stresses he dealt with throughout the years.
Connie understands more than ever the need for family restoration as it returns to civilian life, true for all generations of servicemen and women. Her job is to help facilitate the successful restructuring, restoration, and reintegration of the wives and families, as a whole, into civilian society. Veterans Hope Center will help initiate this healing and life-resuming process. Connie will coordinate family services with a heart to honor and thank those who served.
Connie is the mother of four wonderful children.