Medically discharged U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jamie Jones is familiar with the challenges veterans face when returning to civilian life and the loss of the strong sense of community and brotherhood shared by those who serve. His unique story – getting injured in one of the last training exercises prior to deployment – and strong work ethic have driven him to approach his medical discharge and retirement as a more than full-time opportunity to serve other veterans.
“I am honored to serve veterans,” said Jamie, a resident of Akron’s North Hill neighborhood. “I was awarded 100-percent retirement through my medical discharge, and I felt it was a call to serve fellow veterans as if it were my job. Volunteering with veterans allows me to wake up and have a sense of purpose every day.”
And every day, he serves.
Whether it’s the Valor Court, Boy Scouts of America, Summit County Stand Down, Wheels4Change or any of dozens of other organizations he serves, his altruism is an inspiration to many. In fact, several community members nominated him for this spotlight article, a true testament to his selflessness.
Jones serves as a mentor to the Summit County Court of Common Pleas “Valor Court,” a specialized docket that addresses the challenges veterans face in their return to civilian life with military-specific physical and/or mental trauma. Through Valor Court, veterans are provided access to programs, treatment and interactions with mentors in a collaborative environment to increase their chances at overcoming specific challenges. Jones has only missed one session since beginning his weekly service to the court last September.
“I’ve sat in courts and watched veterans get hammered with a line like ‘You’re a veteran; you should know better,’” he said. In Valor Court, Judge Amy Corrigall Jones and the veteran volunteers take a deeper view. Jamie Jones remarked, “It’s a place where the message is ‘You’re a veteran, and you’ve obviously dealt with a lot of big things, and somehow we didn’t provide the support when you came home that we should have.’”
Of all the organizations Jones serves, Valor Court leads the list. He encourages other veterans to visit the court and find out if volunteering would suit them. “It’s very rewarding. We sit one on one with veterans who need it, listen to them, encourage the camaraderie and let them know that there is someone in their corner to fight for them. Just that alone can help turn their lives around.”
A close second to Valor Court for Jones is his work for the Boy Scouts of America. Over the past five years, Jones has volunteered in a number of roles, from scout master, scout master assistant and fundraising steward to his current role as a committee member. “Teaching them about how to become better people, better adults, and how to go out into society, how to deal with life and how to handle things…these kids are our future.”
A former Boy Scout himself, Jones has enjoyed bonding with his own sons through the program. His sons, Ethan, 16, and Dylan, 15, are on the cusp of becoming Eagle Scouts, each with one more merit badge and the Eagle Scout project remaining. Jones said, “I’m super proud of them. Scouting has given us an opportunity to do things together that I never would have thought to do. Activities like going to hike a mountain and camp or go kayak a river together. Especially growing up in North Hill, it’s just not something I would have thought to do.”
Another organization supported by Jones is Summit County Stand Down, a community-based intervention program designed to help homeless veterans combat life on the street. Jones serves as co-chair for the annual “Laura’s Summit County Stand Down” event, a service day for homeless veterans or veterans down on their luck and who need a hot lunch, haircut, cold weather gear, hygiene items, ID cards and boots. The office of Veterans Affairs and other government services are there to help veterans obtain VA and government services and apply for benefits. There are medical services such as foot and eye clinics, HIV screening, blood pressure screening, flu shots and others. Job assistance also is available, with on-site training and assistance from prospective employers. This year’s event will take place September 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the VFW #338, 690 West Waterloo Road in Akron (Akron Metro Bus Line #13). “It’s sad to say…no, it’s exciting to say that over the course of the last 14 years, it’s become so effective that there may come a day when it’s not needed in the same way. That’s great,” Jones said.
Jones serves Wheels4Change and its co-founder Cassie Schumacher by doing anything and everything they ask him to do. Wheels4Change is an Ohio-based charity that provides veterans and their families with resources to address post-military issues while providing support, including employment, fitness and motivational opportunities and a sense of community they may feel they have lost. Wheels4Change supports and raises awareness for veterans in several ways, including special events and outreach programs. “One of the biggest challenges veterans face is the threat of suicide,” said Jones. “That’s what I love about this organization – suicide is often brought on by depression which can be overcome through exercise.”
Jones said Schumacher’s “love of veterans is really inspiring. You spend 30 minutes with this woman and you can just feel how much she loves and cares about veterans.” Jones can be described the same way.
As one of Jones’s recommendation letters reads, “Jamie tirelessly devotes himself to helping others in his community. He does this because he sincerely enjoys helping people.” His contributions as a marine to the greater Summit County community are significant and his actions encourage other veterans to serve.
Learn more about these organizations and opportunities to serve by clicking the logos below: