FRANKFORT, Ky. –
Kentucky National Guard Soldiers of Bravo Battery, 2-138th Field Artillery Battalion recently came together to help out one of their former Soldiers when they saw he had a major need.
Three years ago, Spc. Akir Jackson was involved in an automobile accident in January 2019 and sustained a traumatic brain injury. Since the accident, he has been bound to a wheelchair and unable to walk. Recently, Jackson got a bigger motorized wheelchair but it was going to be too big to access his house.
“In April, I received a call from a family friend of Spc. Jackson stating that he was about to receive a new motorized wheelchair and it would not fit through the side of his house,” said Army Capt. Logan Forrest, 2-138th Field Artillery Battalion battery commander. “After following up with his mother, Angela Jackson, she requested assistance to build a ramp in the front of their house. In that moment and without hesitation, I said YES’!’, because I knew our unit would answer the call, because that is what we do, we help people in need, especially our own!”
Those who worked with Jackson say that he has a heart of gold and was a Soldier that made those around him better. So it was no surprise to have so many individuals want to step up when they heard that Akir was going to be receiving a new motorized wheelchair that wasn’t going to fit the current ramp situation that the Jackson’s had.
“One of my priorities since taking command has been to ensure we stay connected with Jackson and his family,” said Forrest. “Bravo Battery has a strong family culture and it is nested in our DNA to always lend a hand when needed. Even though he no longer wears the uniform, he still is a part of our family.”
The original plan Forrest had was to find a non-profit organization that could provide either the material and/or labor for the ramp, because he knew of many programs that specialized in helping disabled veterans. After reaching out to various organizations, their requests kept leading to dead ends. That’s when he decided to put out a message to the Soldiers in his unit.
“As expected, many Soldiers jumped to volunteer,” said Forrest.
But one Soldier who went above and beyond was Staff Sgt. Chase Austin.
Austin, who owns his own construction company and is a childhood friend of Jackson, said that he would do whatever was needed to help his friend out. He donated not only his time and expertise, but also his tools and materials.
“We played football for Crawford Middle School together, said Austin. “Then when he came to my unit in the Guard, he was in platoon as well. I wanted to help Jackson’s family out because I just felt like it was the right thing to do for any person. If I am ever in a situation where I can help someone I will, especially a Solider.”
“It means a lot for me to be in a position to help anyone. I try to live my life with high standards and morals and helping Jackson was just the right thing to do. I didn’t even think twice about it”.
And thanks to that kind of willingness to help, they had what they needed to get the ramp built.
“This project could not have been completed without his help,” said Forrest.
Unfortunately, due to the damage done to Jackson’s brain, he has a hard time talking or forming sentences, but his mother shares her gratitude for the work done for her son.
“I’d like to thank Austin for his hard work, as well as all the Soldiers who helped build a wonderful deck and ramp to use,” said Angela. “I love you guys for making this happen for Akir.”
In total, three KYNG Soldiers were able to help along with four others who were outside of the Guard. Many other Soldiers who volunteered ended up having to prepare for their annual training during the time frame the ramp was being built.
“I did not have the opportunity to serve with Jackson at Bravo Battery,” added Forrest. “I still think of him as one of my Soldiers and I wanted to make sure he is never forgotten and that he knows that his Guard family is here for him.”