A U.S. Marine Veteran and double-amputee ran his 20th of 31 marathons along the Grand Canal, Oct. 31, to raise money and awareness for Veteran charities issues.
Rob Jones said he decided to run 31 marathons in 31 days in different cities throughout the country to dispel the belief that if a Veteran comes home from a deployment with a psychological or physical injury that they’re somehow broken.
“[Wounded Veterans] can still contribute to society,” Jones said. “So, what I’m trying to do is provide an example of a Veteran who had a traumatic experience and was able to overcome and continue to fight and contribute to America.”
Jones was honorably discharged in 2011 from the U.S. Marine Corps after serving two combat tours. In 2010 while deployed to Afghanistan, Jones was clearing a patrol for IEDs when he stepped on a mine that exploded beneath him, severing both his legs below the knee.
His recovery from his traumatic injuries began at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and continues through the treatment he’s received at multiple VA hospitals around the country.
“I’ve had nothing but good experiences with the VA,” Jones said. “Whenever I’ve needed something they’ve always worked with me. I have a 100-percent disability rating, which probably helps, but I appreciate the care I receive.”
Jones’ athletic endeavors didn’t begin 20 days ago in London as he embarked on his 31 marathons, but shortly after he was medically retired from the Marines in 2011. He began training for the Paralympics and qualified with the U.S. Rowing National team for the 2012 Paralympics, where the team took home the bronze medal at the games, according to his biography.
In 2013, Jones began a solo-supported bike ride across America starting in Maine and ending 181 days later in Camp Pendleton, California. He raised $126,000 for the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, the Inured Marine Semper Fi Fund and Ride 2 Recovery.
Jones said his goal is to raise $1 million for charities during his monthlong marathon challenge. He and his dedicated team, which includes his wife Pamela, have raised $125,000 in the 20 days since he began his newest journey. The former combat engineer said he doesn’t know what his next challenge will be after he completes his 31st marathon in Washington D.C. on Veterans Day, but that he planned to continue to raise awareness about wounded Veteran topics.
“It’s important for Veterans struggling to cope with a mental or physical injury to see the struggle as an obstacle that they can overcome,” Jones said. “Overcoming that obstacle will make you stronger and improve you as a person.”
For more information about Rob’s journey and the Veteran charities he supports, visit http://www.robjonesjourney.com/#home-2-section
About the author: Macario Mora is a public affairs secialist for the Phoenix VA Health Care System.