Mother of soldier killed in Iraq more than a decade ago opens local resource center for veterans

 

In August of 2004, Jacquelyn Dixon`s life changed forever. Her son, Anthony “Joe”, also known as A.J. was killed during a tour of duty in Iraq.

"Somebody in the area detonated an IED and killed him," she said. "The shrapnel came up through the floor and killed him immediately."

He was only 20 years-old.

"I thought i was in la la land. I just couldn't imagine this happening to my son, but it did."

A year after his death, she decided to open a resource center in her hometown of Berlin, New Jersey to honor Anthony.

Dixon`s mother originally opened this as a community service center in 2005 but had to close due several years later to lack of funding, when the landlord gave her the chance to re-open, she did that, but with a different mission.

In early February, she officially opened the A.J. Dixon vets and friends resource center to help veterans.

It`s a place where veterans can eat, play and most importantly, talk about their experiences in combat.

Nicholas Beck was wounded while serving in Vietnam.

He's been coming here since they opened.

Beck thinks more can be done across the country to help veterans. Going to the center has helped him cope with memories of combat.

"I still cry over it, i lost a lot of good friends there," he said. "It`s comfortable, they all understand me. They know my name, they all know my name and we just shoot the breeze talking."

He`s not the only one to appreciate Dixon`s efforts. Notes of gratitude are etched on the walls of the center.

Dixon said it`s still a work in progress. They`re only open on Wednesdays because of a lack in volunteers. So far they`ve only had a handful veterans sign up.

but she wants veterans everywhere to know she and others are here for them.

"We want to be able to help those that come in whether it`s two, three, 20 whatever the number, if we can offer you something to make our life better, that`s what we`re all about," she said.

She knows her a is looking down and smiling.