TOPEKA (KSNT) – For Gary Jackman, more well known in the veteran community as GI Jack, serving doesn’t end after active duty.
Jackman was drafted in the mid 60’s, 10 years into the Vietnam War.
“When I got informed of Vietnam, I was in Colorado,” Jackman said. “A lot of my friends had already went before me, so I was ready to go.”
GI Jack would serve in the Army for 27 years – finishing his active duty in 1992. His time of service was far from over however, taking roles with the American Legion – Veterans of Foreign Wars – Vietnam Veterans Association – Disabled Veterans Association – and more in the 30 years since retirement.
“I think I belong to about everything there is,” Jackman said. “I’ve been commander of quite a few of them. I like serving, and I like doing what I’m supposed to do.”
In addition to leadership positions, GI Jack works with the local Topeka community, helping set up the final salute for veterans.
“I’m the guy that calls guys around for funerals for veterans,” Jackman said. “We do over 10 a month every month – it’s the thing we ought to do.”
It’s not an easy position in any sense, but helping honor those who’ve served and offer closure for loved ones, makes it all worth it.
“When the family comes up and thanks us, that means everything to us,” Jackman said.
Additionally, Jackman encourages others who have served to visit the VA, even driving them over if need be.
“I’ve taken a lot of people, veterans, down to the VA to help them get their benefits, get them signed up for medical care,” Jackman said. “A lot of them didn’t think they would do that, they said I don’t need that – yes they do. They really need that.”
Becoming involved with veteran organizations post service, is something Jackman cannot recommend enough.
“Whether it’s American Legion, VFW, Combat Veterans Association, whatever – you need to get involved with somebody, and get out there and help the community, and pay back.”
Even three decades after finishing active duty, GI Jack’s values of comradery and dedication to fellow soldiers pushes his sense of duty every day.