Face of Defense: Strong-Willed Soldier Gives Cancer the Boot

December 08, 2017

ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 8, 2017 — Described as strong, smart, driven and determined — one would be surprised to find Army Spc. Courtney Jones doesn’t don a Wonder Woman costume, but she displays her red, white and blue human spirit through the Army uniform she wears.

Today she lives a childhood dream and family legacy of serving her country that she was determined to follow.

“Most of my family is made up of police officers. However, my grandfather was in the Army and served in Vietnam. He eventually retired as a captain, and certainly had a lot of great advice for me, so quite naturally getting to be a part of the Army has been a big accomplishment for me,” said Jones, who is assigned to the U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition Program here.

‘I Have Always Dared to be Different’

“I’ve always dreamt of entering the Army,” she added. “I have always dared to be different and love taking risk. My other dream as a kid was to be a stunt woman.”

Jones entered the Army in 2016 as a cannon crew member, a field previously closed to women. She was selected to attend the first basic training and advanced individual training classes open to women at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

“It was definitely an amazing experience. However, there were a lot of obstacles to overcome. When we first arrived there were no female barracks or restrooms. At first everyone was a little unsure about us being there, but it was all about us getting out there and proving we were just as good as anyone else. We’re here to stay,” Jones said.

It’s that fighting spirit the 22-year-old Jones would lean on shortly after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. After the diagnosis, she was notified she would need radiation treatment.

“Receiving the diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was definitely surprising to me, but my main concern was whether they would let me proceed though AIT or give me the boot,” she said. “I passed my Army Physical Fitness Test and physical demands test with cancer. I apparently had cancer a few months before starting AIT. After the diagnosis, I got my port put in and started treatment while finishing and graduating as an official [cannon crew member].”

Determined to Succeed

Determined to fight the medical evaluation board review, Jones requested the opportunity to prove she could still perform the duties of a cannon crew member. She began working with the division artillery. On her first day, she completed a four-mile ruck march to the small arms range.

Despite beginning at the back of the formation, she finished at the front. For the rest of that day, Jones focused on artillery skills proficiency testing. Command officials say she had a faster disassemble and assembly time than a majority of their soldiers.

“My determination just stems from a very headstrong and positive outlook; I believe anybody can do anything they put their mind to,” she said. “This was definitely a dream of mine and I couldn’t give up no matter what was thrown in my way.”

And just as the fictional superhero Wonder Woman fights for truth, Jones says her success is due to her inner truth and a testament to the human spirit.

“I never let someone tell you can’t do something or you’re not good enough because with the right determination and attitude you can do anything,” Jones said. “The human spirit can push someone to do things they never thought possible, and my spirit to drive on with prayer and family, supports me along the way to accomplish my goals.”

Jones is in remission and will return to active duty upon completing her chemotherapy treatment. She plans on attending veterinary school in the future.