Soldier in transition feels like rock star at inaugural ball

Jackson Col. Dianne Jackson alongside her brother at the All American Inaugural ball in Washington, D.C. Jackson was among several Walter Reed WTB Soldiers in transition in attendance at various festivities during the week of the 2017 inauguration. Jackson enjoyed herself and relished the opportunity to inform people about the warrior care mission. (Photo courtesy Col. Dianne Jackson)

By John. M. Rosenberg, Warrior Care and Transition

January 30, 2017 - Apollo 11 astronaut, and second man to set foot on the moon, Buzz Aldrin was front and center at the January 19, 2017 All - American Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C. So too was Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Warrior Transition Battalion Soldier in transition, Col. Dianne Jackson, who exclaims she felt like a rock star in attending the ball, which was publicized as being “a magical evening with strolling entertainers, celebrity speakers, and interactive attractions.”

“This upstaged any party I’ve ever attended,” said Jackson, a native of Missouri. “This was my first ever inaugural ball. It was a very big deal to me.”

Jackson was among a group of local WTB Soldiers presented with tickets, courtesy of the Walter Reed WTB family care coordinator, to various galas during the week in which the 45th President of the United States was sworn into office. In keeping with Washington tradition, each event centers around a different theme, with the decades-old All American Ball billed as a “toast to American culture.”

Unsure as to what exactly she was getting into, Jackson says she was looking forward to enlightening those at the party about WTBs and the warrior care mission.

“People were so very friendly,” said Jackson. “Even Buzz Aldrin… if you wanted to go up and talk to him, you could, though it was very crowded around him.”

Like most inaugural galas, Jackson’s event had limited seating, though there were specially-reserved seats for Jackson and her fellow Soldiers. “Because there were so few seats available other attendees came and sat alongside of us,” said Jackson. “This gave us an even greater opportunity to talk about warrior care.”

When she wasn’t busy discussing warrior care, Jackson enjoyed dancing and exploring the sprawling venue, in which each section was host to a different musical group, comedic act or other presentation. “The Reagan Years band played music from the 1980s… songs like “Jesse’s Girl” and the like,” said Jackson. “The music was awesome.”

In all, says Jackson, “It doesn’t matter your political preference. It was a night to celebrate and to remember. I’m a military professional, so it’s a privilege to support the new commander in chief. It was also an honor to attend and to advocate for our wounded warriors.”