Combat-wounded Staff Sergeant (Ret.) Johnny “Joey” Jones turned a traumatic, life-changing disability into a personal mission to improve the lives of all veterans.
Joey currently works for Zac Brown’s Southern Ground, which produces an array of quality products and services all for the purpose of financially sustaining Camp Southern Ground, a 400 acre camp and retreat for children ages 7 to 17 and military families. He also hosts his own inspirational podcast, “Blown Away with JJJ.” Joey regularly appears as an outspoken, yet insightful military analyst for Fox News. Jones has also been featured on CNN, ABC’s “Nightline,” “CBS Evening News,” “The Real”, Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family”, and in 2016 he was the subject in the series premiere episode of DirectTV’s docs-series “Religion of Sports” detailing Joey’s upbringing and current involvement in NASCAR. On the big screen, he appeared in the Academy Award-winning film “Lincoln,” the veteran written produced and starred independent film “Range 15” and was a technical advisor for the independent film “Bad Hurt.”
Known to his friends as “Triple J,” Jones was raised in Dalton, Georgia and enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school. During his eight years of service, he worked as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (bomb) Technician, deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan on seperate tours. During his last deployment to Afghanistan, Jones was responsible for disarming and destroying more than 80 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and thousands of pounds of other unknown bulk explosives. It was during that tour on August 6, 2010 when he stepped on and initiated an IED, resulting in the loss of both of his legs above the knee and severe damage to his right forearm and both wrists. He recovered at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington D.C.
Determined to make the road to recovery easier for his fellow wounded veterans, Jones founded a peer visit program at Walter Reed, providing opportunities for others recovering to mentor and encourage newly-injured patients. His dedication and relentlessness led to an unprecedented year-long fellowship on Capitol Hill with the House of Representatives Veterans’ Affairs Committee, his work resulted in the creation of an annual fellowship for a wounded Marine.
After his initial recovery, Jones enrolled in Georgetown University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree.. During his time at the university, he was a leader within his student body and co-founded the first veteran student organization at the school. His time at Georgetown fostered relationships and efforts that are still changing the lives of veteran students on campus today.
After losing his childhood best friend to PTSD-related suicide in 2012, Jones decided to make veterans’ issues a key part his professional work. Throughout his post-service career, he has carefully fostered relationships with key players in politics and the media in an effort to keep those issues at the forefront of discussion. He’s shared his experiences and insights on the challenges facing active duty and retired service members as a dinner guest of President Obama in 2012, and later with former President George W. Bush in 2014. He has also visited with Vice President Biden, as well as multiple cabinet officials and military generals and still enjoys a close personal and working relationship with current Marine Corps leaders. In 2014 Joey became the Chief Operating Officer of Boot Campaign, a national military nonprofit. In 2015 Joey joined Marcus Luttrell, Taya Kyle and others for Patriot Tour. In 2016 Joey joined many candidates on the campaign trail as a national voice for veterans in upcoming elections.
Jones’ easy rapport with civilians, military leaders and celebrities alike has led to a long list of speaking opportunities. His message focuses on overcoming adversity, finding a positive perspective in dire situations, leaning on those around you, and finding strength in yourself and your community. Rather it be on live television, in writing, or speaking to a live audience, Joey’s genuine demeanor, thoughtful approach and innate humor allow him to masterfully connect with people of all walks of life on a gambit of issues. He simply believes we all need the confidence to tell ourselves its time to, “Get up, Get Over it, and Get Going.”