“I Always Dreamed of Being a Hero and Catching Bad Guys”

February 27, 2015

Jonas Jones was thinking about service and justice even as a little kid. “I dreamed of being a hero and catching bad guys,” he says.

Jonas was born and raised in Hazelwood, Missouri just north of St. Louis. He was taught at a young age “to take care of the people who take care of you,” as he puts it. At 29 years old, this particular life lesson brought him to the office of a U.S. Army recruiter.

“I joined the military because I wanted to create a better life for me and my family. I wanted the best in life. The Army gave me the opportunity to fight with the best, and be the best man I could be – someone who reflected respect and good character.”

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Jonas served nearly four years as an Army infantryman. In 2010, his unit deployed to Afghanistan. Jonas served on the front lines as a gunner in his unit’s weapons squad. He led soldiers in combat, and in operations to capture prisoners of war.

His childhood dream of “catching the bad guys” became a reality.

During the same deployment, while returning from a mission, Jonas’s truck was struck by an IED. The truck commander and an Afghanistan local who had accompanied Jonas’s troop on their mission were thrown from the vehicle, and Jonas, along with three other soldiers, were stuck inside.

“That blast was so intense, I blacked out,” he says. “When I came to I felt extreme pain running throughout my whole body and a sergeant screaming asking if we were all okay inside the truck.”

Jonas sustained a traumatic brain injury and deep lacerations from the explosion, earning him a Purple Heart. A few weeks later, his deployment ended and Jonas returned home. Initially, he began training for his next deployment but later decided it was time to hang up his uniform.

Jonas needed to decide what to do next. He had a passion for law enforcement and serving his community, so he decided to pursue an education in criminology and psychology. Meanwhile, his wife introduced to The Mission Continues Fellowship Program.

Jonas Jones (orientation)

In September 2014, Jonas was awarded a six-month Mission Continues Fellowship at the St. Louis County Police Department. As a Fellow, he serves alongside Sgt. Jeremy Romo, who leads the department’s Crisis Intervention Team Program. The program connects individuals who are struggling with mental health disorders to the right resources, which helped steer them away from the correctional system.

“Most of our work is done with the community. We work with the elderly who are battling Alzheimer’s, the homeless, veterans who struggle with post-traumatic stress or substance abuse issues, and youth who are fighting mental health issues,” says Sgt. Romo.  “We connect these individuals to resources that keep them out of jail or the justice system, because they don’t belong there.”

Jonas is about one month away from completing his fellowship. During the last several months, he devoted 20 hours a week to enhancing the Crisis Intervention Team Program. From attending community meetings, to engaging in productive conversations with city officials, and educating more than 55 Police Officers on veterans’ mental health issues, Jonas has served as a tremendous asset for the St. Louis County Police Department.

Jonas Jones Outstanding Citizenship Award (4) copy

“Jonas has incredible work ethic. He’s punctual, respectful and one of those guys you can tell is truly enjoying himself every day – he is just so service oriented” says Sgt. Romo.

Recognizing that Jonas repeatedly went above and beyond the call of duty, Sgt. Romo nominated him for the department’s Citizen Service Citation award, which recognizes a citizen who plays a crucial role in empowering the police department to give back to the community.

“Similarly to military soldiers, police officers are often told to separate their emotions from work and ‘toughen up.’ Well, Jonas was here while the events in Ferguson took place, which put a tremendous strain on police officers and the St. Louis community as a whole,” says Sgt. Romo. “He would share stories of his military experience, which really helped build morale and provide support for the officers. He also grew up in North County, near Ferguson, and was able to offer a unique perspective on the community.”

Sgt. Romo and the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissions presented Jonas with the Citizen Service Citation on February 11.

Jonas Jones Outstanding Citizenship Award (3)

“I was truly pleased, honored, and humbled to receive the Citizen Service Citation award from Sgt. Jermey Romo,” says Jonas. “He has also been a great mentor to me. The St. Louis County Police Department treated me like family and instilled in me the passion to continue to always fight the good fight, especially for those who cannot do it for themselves.”

Jonas recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminology and psychology, and is currently enrolled in graduate school. He plans to pursue a career in law enforcement, and get back to “catching bad guys” combatting crime in the cyber security sector.

“None of this would’ve been possible if it wasn’t for The Mission Continues and Moses Maddox who is another great mentor of mine and works with The Mission Continues,” says Jonas. “My fellowship gave me the encouragement and the blueprint to be successful in any endeavor.”

Building a Lifelong Legacy of Service in St. Louis

October 31, 2015
Steve Johnston

Steve Johnston is one of the first supporters of The Mission Continues and current chairman of the St. Louis Leadership Committee.  His family is a Gold Sponsor for The Mission Continues 5th Annual Veterans Day Gala on November 1st. In this blog post, he reflects on the early days of The Mission Continues and how watching the organization grow over the last seven years has been one of his greatest joys.   Continue reading “Building a Lifelong Legacy of Service in St. Louis”

Making History Every Day

October 29, 2014
Dr. Libby O’Connell

Dr. Libby O’Connell is the Chief Historian and Senior Vice President of Corporate Outreach for History Channel. History Channel is proud supporter of The Mission Continues and a Gold Sponsor for the 5th Annual Veterans Day Gala on Saturday, November 1st in St. Louis, Missouri. In this post, she reflects with gratitude on the men and women who are returning home from war and building a positive legacy of service for future generations to follow.  Continue reading “Making History Every Day”

A Band of Baseball Brothers

October 22, 2014
Bill Dolanzo

With the MLB World Series underway and Veterans Day on the horizon, there isn’t a better time than now to talk about baseball, motivation and service.

Over the last three years, I’ve had the privilege to coach a select youth baseball team called Flying Tigers. I have seen how much our country values military service. I have also seen how supporting veterans motivated a baseball team to give their best in the pursuit of something special ─ how service motivated them to play the game of baseball the way it is supposed to be played.

Team photo 2014 (1)

Continue reading “A Band of Baseball Brothers”

Stumbling Upon a Passion to Serve

October 6, 2014
Katie Hector

JeremyBailey@St.LouisPublicRadio

Jeremy Bailey stumbled across The Mission Continues — literally.

He was on the discovery engine Stumble Upon, which recommends web content to users surfing the Internet, when he discovered The Mission Continues.

The timing couldn’t have been better: After launching and operating a business for six years following his separation from the Navy, Jeremy realized there was a void in his professional life.

Continue reading “Stumbling Upon a Passion to Serve”

A Model for the Nation

August 13, 2014

Mathews-Dickey Boys & Girls Club sits on the corner of Kingshighway Blvd and Highway 70 in North St. Louis. In a neighborhood typically cast as economically depressed and “where gunfire still rules the night,” its easy to look over the unassuming campus that provides athletic, educational and enrichment programs for 40,000 young men and women each year.

So when The Mission Continues was recently invited to help distribute backpacks and school supplies to more than 100 kids participating in their summer school programs, it was a no-brainer.

Continue reading “A Model for the Nation”