An Iowa soldier severely injured in Iraq has become a spokesman for a group urging Americans to give soldiers a better homecoming. B.J. Jackson, who is now living in Des Moines, lost both legs below the knee after his vehicle hit a land mine in Baghdad back in August of last year. He says some soldiers — particularly those who now have a disability — are “down on their luck.” Jackson says just having people on the street say thanks means a lot. Jackson will be walking around the State Fairgrounds today, tomorrow and Sunday with a group of about 25 others from the “Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes” — urging fairgoers to salute the soldiers who’re fighting the war on terror. Jackson got his artificial legs last November and was skiing in Colorado in December. Jackson says an organization helped him with the transition, and the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes hopes to be a clearinghouse to help soldiers find what help is available. Jackson says many of the part-time National Guard soldiers who’ve been called away from their real-life jobs to serve full-time in the military are finding it difficult to return to work, especially if they were wounded. Jackson says the “Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes” will host a “Road to Recovery” conference in Florida this December to help spread the word about job opportunities as well as services available for veterans. Jackson, who is going back to school, lives in Des Moines with his wife and their two daughters. Jackson spoke with Radio Iowa yesterday by phone from San Antonio, Texas, where he was meeting with other disabled soldiers at a military hospital. The website for the coalition is www.saluteheroes.org.
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