Help­ing one who served:

Car­ing

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Kirk Bohls kbohls@states­man.com

a former marine who has mul­ti­ple sclero­sis gets a hand from busi­nesses and the com­mu­nity through the sea­son for car­ing pro­gram.

The first time Tracy Jack­son got a glimpse of her mother’s friend in a Marine uni­form, she was hooked.

“I liked his uni­form,” Jack­son re­called. “The dress blues with the red stripes on the pants.”

Shortly there­after, the 18year-old Mis­sourian re­buffed her mother’s de­sire that she go to col­lege, and Jack­son headed to Vir­ginia to join the Marines. She be­gan an eight-year stint in the mil­i­tary and met the man she would marry.

The story doesn’t have a fairy tale end­ing, but don’t tell that to Jack­son, who loved her time in the Marines. She worked in off­set print­ing, pub­lish­ing ev­ery­thing from mil­i­tary man­u­als to church pam­phlets, and she lived in a va­ri­ety of places, from Al­bany, Ga., to Hawaii.

Af­ter end­ing her Marine ser­vice as a sergeant, she re­lo­cated in Cen­tral Texas to live near her brother in 1997. Nine years later, she was di­ag­nosed

with mul­ti­ple sclero­sis.

She lost her job in med­i­cal billing af­ter a short stay in the hospi­tal and has not been able to find work be­cause she is now in a wheel­chair with very lit­tle use of her limbs. She has been liv­ing off So­cial Se­cu­rity dis­abil­ity and Meals on Wheels and More as­sis­tance.

Jack­son is part of the Austin Amer­i­can-States­man’s Sea­son for Car­ing pro­gram, which helps 12 fea­tured fam­i­lies and hun­dreds of oth­ers like them through lo­cal non­profit agen­cies.

“I was really in­de­pen­dent my whole life,” Jack­son said. “The MS has af­fected me mainly on my right side. Some days are good; some days are not.”

It’s hard to judge from her moods, how­ever, be­cause she is per­pet­u­ally up­beat and doesn’t al­low her­self to wal­low in de­pres­sion. Her two sons, An­thony and An­toine, help out, but it was tough emo­tion­ally when her daugh­ter, Linda, left for col­lege in Au­gust.

When Jack­son’s story first ap­peared as part of Sea­son for Car­ing, she had a long list of needs, but thanks to Am­plify Credit Union, Fac­tory Mat­tress Sales, Eclec­tic Eye­wear, St. David’s Health­Care and States­man read­ers, many of her needs have been met.

What’s left will im­prove her qual­ity of life. Jack­son still needs an ac­ces­si­ble two-bed­room apart­ment that will have a place for For more in­for­ma­tion on Jack­son or to do­nate an item on her wish list, con­tact Meals on Wheels and More at 476-6325 or Meal­son­Wheels and­more.org. Linda to stay when she vis­its. She also needs an ac­ces­si­ble van to take to and from doc­tor’s ap­point­ments. Fi­nan-

Tracy Jack­son has been liv­ing with mul­ti­ple sclero­sis since 2006. She is a di­vorced mother of three and an ex-Marine. lAurA SkElding / AmEr­i­cAn-StAtES­mAn

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