Alexander devoted to veteran support

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, December 26, 2018

By DAISY WASHINGTON / Community Columnist

“I get my peace and healing from helping other people,” said 75-year-old Ronald “Ron” Alexander Jefferson.

At 17, Jefferson entered the Navy, later transferring to the Army.

He went from being a cook in Germany to a door gunner on a helicopter in Vietnam.

He was a Green Beret with the 5th Special Forces and served in Vietnam for seven years.

His highest rank was E-7 SFC.

“I am proud to have served my country,” Jefferson said.

Upon his return from Vietnam, he entered the corporate world, where he managed jewelry stores and malls all over the Southeast.

He started his own business in 1984, called Jefferson’s Plant-A-Radium with a specialty in houseplants.

Jefferson resides with his two sons in Alabaster and is an avid horticulturist.

He said he is “proud to have raised two good sons.”

He grew up in a Cajun Catholic family in New Orleans, the baby of 10 children.

His five brothers served in each of the military branches.

Since retirement, Jefferson spends his days mentoring young men and women who have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq as well as older vets, helping them acclimate back into society.

He is a regular at Wednesday’s VA pain management group.

“It is a good atmosphere, a place where young vets can go and have someone understand them,” he said.

Jefferson suffered major nerve damage due to Agent Orange exposure.

He has worn leg braces for years and dealt with chronic pain.

At the VA Medical Center, Jefferson is known as the “Last Man Standing” due to being the only living Vietnam veteran having served five consecutive tours of duty in Vietnam.

American Legion Shirley-Holloway Post 131 sergeant-at-arms, Jefferson chairs their Heroes to Hometown (H2H) program which assist vets getting into the VA system, focuses on at-risk vets, and wounded warriors who have returned to their community and cannot do what they used to do.

He serves as a group facilitator for the VA and Shelby County Speakers Bureau and serves on the Shelby County Drug Free Coalition.

Some of his past involvement has included Birmingham Advisory Board, Education Foundation, St. Mary’s Catholic School to name a few.

Jefferson has been awarded the Purple Heart, Vietnam and Korean Cross of Gallantry, U.S. Commendation Medal, National Defense Medal, Vietnam 212 Aviation Battalion Wings of Freedom, among many other military honors and accolades.

RSVP is proud to have Jefferson as a volunteer and station manager or Last Man Standing.

Most recently, he was presented the 2017 Alabama Senior Citizen Hall of Fame Military Award.