Jeffrey Walton was specializing in finance in the Army National Guard when he got called to Iraq back in October 2004. Since he was trained as a military policeman, Walton was among a group of soldiers taken from their regular units, combined as a new group and flown in to support troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Within 10 days of the call, Walton was on a plane, leaving his wife and two young daughters and his job at General Electric. A bad leg left him disabled when he returned home two years later and he still battles the psychological trauma he experienced, but he has been rebuilding his life.
Walton was honored Thursday by American Legion Post 701, a post that’s taking on the role of helping soldiers cope with returning from a life wrought with explosions and death and assimilating back into the life they left behind.
“It turns everything around quickly,” said Walton, 38, who was presented a $500 check through the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes.
“When you get the call, you go. Hopefully you make it back, which I did. A lot of people didn’t,” Walton said.
The nonprofit Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes was created as a conduit for individuals, organizations, and corporations to help severely wounded veterans rebuild their lives, and the grant for Walton was one of 1,000 distributed throughout the country.
Walton, who was joined by his wife, Sandra, on Thursday, said the honor was unexpected.
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