“I was in the Marine Corps from 2006 to 2011. I was a combat engineer, and the primary duties of a combat engineer are to breach obstacles either using explosives, or finding safe routes through danger areas…or areas that have a high likelihood of containing IED’s.”
Retired Marine and double amputee Rob Jones, 33, who now lives in Leesburg, completed deployments in Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2010. He recalls when he was wounded by an IED.
“I was unconscious for about 20 seconds – and then when I woke up, I was pretty bummed,” Jones said. “But when I got back to America, and I kind of got my senses back, you know, I kind of quickly realized that being a double below-the-knee amputee didn’t change the mission of my life…which is to have an enjoyable life and have a meaningful life.”
To help fulfill that mission, Jones ran 30 marathons in 31 days last year, starting in London and ending in Washington, D.C.
“The fact that I needed to be okay for my parents and my family and my friends and my Marine brothers that were still back in Afghanistan…and those two things combined forced me to move on pretty quickly,” Jones said.
During those marathons, Jones not only helped raise awareness – he also helped raise about $130,000 for a variety of wounded veteran charities. Among them is the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, an organization that helps provide aid to wounded troops.
“They helped me to peruse my own personal mission – so they helped me with funding my rowing training when I was a full-time rowing athlete, provided money for me to go on camps and that kind of thing,” Jones explained. “They’ve also provided me an opportunity to be a voice to veterans.”
Jones’ list of accomplishments doesn’t stop there. He also rode a bike from one end of the United States to the other.
“I was trying to do it on behalf of veterans to create a story for them to reference, and just show not only veterans and also civilians…what veterans are capable of, wounded or not…if their wounds are physical or psychological,” Jones added.
Jones said he’s always had an objective that was beyond himself – and with that, he has a message for wounded veterans who might need some words of encouragement.
“There are something like 40,000 veterans service organizations, so there are plenty of people out there that are willing to help,” Jones said. “And on top of that, just remember that you’re part of a brotherhood, whether you’re in the Marines Corps or any kind of branch in the service. You didn’t go overseas and fight alone, so there’s no reason for you to fight alone back here on the homefront.”