Veteran shares his experience overcoming homelessness and sexual assault
GRANTS PASS, Ore. —
A veteran shared his traumatic experiences in the military and how he overcame them to a crowd at Rogue Community College on Tuesday.
Navy Veteran Timothy Jones says he was sexually assaulted while serving overseas in Japan.
He is far from alone, of the 20,300 estimated victims of sexual assault in the military in 2014, 10,600 were men and 9,600 were women according to the Department of Defense.
After he was assaulted he said many other Navy Sailors disassociated from him because of the culture during the "don't ask, don't tell" era of the military. The post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he faced after being raped led him to homelessness and ultimately to prison.
Jones says when he enlisted in the 1990's, there wasn't the support there is today.
"For me the services just weren't there as a male victim at the time that I experienced my events. Today with post 9-11 veterans and [Veteran Affairs'] re-focus on mental health [it] really allowed me to be discovered through the cracks," Timothy Jones, Navy Veteran said.
Jones believes services that assist veterans have significantly improved in the last few decades, particularly programs that help homeless veterans.
"There's more of a focus now on homeless veterans and there's a lot of resources available to veterans to first get their basic needs met, and also services to assist them. For me, homelessness was the sympton, sexual assault was the root issue," said Jones.
After going through counseling sessions in jail he decided to refocus his life and pursue higher education. It was through his college experiences that he worked with the Student Veteran of America (SVA), and regained a sense of purpose and pride in his identity as a veteran.
He now speaks to and trains veterans and college students across the country on the issues of sexual assault, military reintegration, and veteran services in higher education.
Despite his negative experiences, Jones is proud that he served the United States through the Navy.
"I'm proud of my service, I'm proud to be a navy veteran, and my experience however traumatic it was, led me to be here today. We can overcome anything that happens to us, I spoke about sexual assault and being a male sexual assault survivor. It's taken me a long time to get here. I don't want another survivor to take that long. I want them to know that first and foremost, we're here for them, we love them, and for all veterans who have worn that uniform to know that no matter what, we're proud of their service."