Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. -- When he was first wounded, Rob Jones said he thought he was a failure.
As a combat engineer he felt he should have seen the improvised explosive device and avoided it. He felt guilty for leaving the Marines he was there to protect from IEDs behind.
Jones, a former Marine and Paralympic bronze medalist, shared the story of his recovery from the explosion that took his legs and his triumph at the 2012 Paralympic Games with the Marines of Wounded Warrior Battalion April 19.
Jones is a double, above-knee amputee. He spoke with wit and humor of his recovery, the doubts that plagued him through the process and how he overcame them.
“It’s a hard thing to accept,” said Jones. “I think when we fail at something it’s really easy to declare ourselves total failures. It’s easy to get caught up in that.”
Jones thought about his successes, he had three missions: to train his Marines, find IED’s and to keep others from being hurt by them. While he was hurt there were no other serious injuries from the blast and the Marines he trained made it home safely.
“It’s easy to ignore the full truth in situations like this,” said Jones. “In order to move on I think you have to assess yourself truthfully. If you failed, accept that you failed, but if you didn’t fail at everything you have to accept that too. Getting hung up on something is only going to hold us back from doing something that is going to make our lives meaningful.”
Jones also shared how he regained his confidence while recovering. He took on every challenge he could while in physical therapy but still felt like he was missing the tough cardio vascular workout he had done as a Marine.
Through his search for a better exercise, Jones found sculling, a form of rowing, as a way to challenge and strengthen himself which gave him back more than his strength – it gave him confidence.
“Sports are really good for proving to yourself that you can set a goal and accomplish it,” said Jones.
Overcoming his internal thoughts and looking at his improvements over the long term rather than focusing on small setbacks and negative thoughts helped Jones continue to push himself to his Olympic goals.
There were only a few years between Jones’ time recovering in hospitals and his time representing the United States in London at the Paralympic Games.
Jones’ visit was part of the kick-off for a new sculling class for the WAR program at Wounded Warrior Battalion – East. Sculling is a form of rowing that provides a total-body aerobic, light-impact workout to participants.