Childhood dreams do come true. Just ask Army veteran Bill Jones.

Julia LeDoux
October 30, 2019 - 3:35 pm
Bill Jones and Brett Michaels

Photo courtesy of Bill Jones

Bill Jones jammed to Def Leppard tunes as he was growing up. It never crossed his mind that he’d tour with them one day.

But that’s exactly what happened in 2014, when Jones, a former Army aviator, scored a gig with the band thanks to the Wounded Warrior Project’s Warriors to Work program.

“To be able to meet this iconic band, I was `oh, man,’” he said.

Jones was originally hired as an assistant stage manager. But, he was working on his degree in broadcast media at the time and was soon placed in the video department.

“From the first show, I was running the front of house camera and working on the LED screens,” he said.

Jones’ competed against thousands of others for the coveted slot and learned he had the job about two weeks before the tour began. While traveling with the band, Jones learned the technological ins and outs of its video system.

concert
Photo courtesy of Bill Jones

“This is real-world experience,” he said. “I ended up being the lead camera guy by the end of the tour.”

Medically discharged from the Army as a result of  PTS and several other health issues, Jones first learned about WWP in 2013 when a friend from church asked him to look into the organization.

“I was absolutely blown away by what I saw,” he said.

Jones soon found himself attending a WWP Project Odyssey event. Project Odyssey takes vets outside to work on learning how to regain trust through various exercises, including confidence climbs.

“My life was forever changed since I participated,” he said. “I really couldn’t start healing until I did that because I really couldn’t get out of my shell. I couldn’t let things go. I couldn’t trust anybody.”

Jones said transitioning out of the military was depressing and frustrating.

“It felt like the Army was turning its back on us,” he said.

Jones, who was an officer, said employers told him they couldn’t afford to pay him what he made in the military and couldn’t hire him.  That’s when he turned to the Warriors to Work program for help.

Bill Jones
Wounded Warrior Project

The program is staffed by a 28-member team of specialists who help transitioning service members fine-tune their resumes, sharpen their interviewing skills, and find meaningful employment.

“We’re saving lives by providing jobs,” said Michael Loubert, WWP’s Warriors to Work regional director.

Jones also connected with musician Rick Allen in a personal way during the tour. Allen lost his arm in an accident and lived with PTS for five years without realizing what it was, he explained.

“I lived with PTSD not understanding what it was for nearly 10 years,” Jones said. “We both connected very well with watching each other’s backs.”

Within months of the tour ending, Jones landed a full-time job with the video production company, a position he holds today.

“I scored a career of a lifetime,” he said.

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Reach Julia LeDoux: Julia@connectingvets.com

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