Double-amputee veteran Rob Jones, a Republican from Middleburg, Virginia, announced Monday he will challenge Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D., Va.) for the congressional seat in Virginia's 10th District.
Nine years ago today, Jones lost both his legs when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded beneath him in Afghanistan.
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"I joined the Marine Corps because I admired the selflessness and courage that Marines exhibited, and I wanted to serve our country like them. When I was injured, I had a choice: I could either accept that my mission was over and coast through life on my disability or I could learn to walk again and find a new way to fulfill my purpose in life," Jones said in a press release. "That was an easy choice, and not only did I learn to walk again, but I learned to run, and I haven't stopped running since."
Jones criticized Wexton for displaying "a concerning lack of selfless leadership."
"If all the people I met while running 31 marathons in 31 days taught me one thing, it's that this is not a country that quits when things get hard. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Congress. There is a concerning lack of selfless leadership in the Capitol these days from representatives like Jennifer Wexton who far too often do what's best for their own political careers instead of doing what's right for our country," Jones said.
"My experience in Afghanistan taught me that there are going to be times that someone has to step forward and do the right thing regardless of the danger or the difficulty. This is one of those times. In Congress, my pledge to you is that I will do what’s right for our community and country, even if it means being unpopular with my party. That's why I am running again, this time for Congress: to bring selfless leadership back to our Capitol," he continued.
Jones was deployed to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2010. While in Afghanistan, his job was to protect fellow Marines by charting safe routes through areas thought to contain IEDs. On July 22, 2010, while clearing a path in Taliban territory, he stepped on an IED and needed two above-knee amputations.
Jones learned to walk, bike, row, and run again, and was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 2011. He represented the United States in the 2012 Paralympic games, winning a bronze medal in rowing. In 2013, he rode his bike across the country — from Maine to California — to support veterans and raised $126,000 for charities helping wounded warriors. In 2017, he ran 31 full marathons in 31 days in 31 different cities to raise awareness and funds for wounded veteran charities.
For his service, Jones received the Purple Heart Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Operation Enduring Freedom Campaign Medal, and the Operation Iraqi Freedom Campaign Medal. He and his wife own a small vegetable farm.