Patriot Profiles: ‘Find the positive in everything you do’

This column presents “Patriot Profiles” to provide readers insight into the lives of our country’s heroes.

By Jeanne McKinney

A soldier needs stress unless it leads to distress. “Stress causes energy-pumping hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to be released into the bloodstream, preparing the body to act in times of danger, known as a ‘fight or flight’ response,” states Lisa Young, a health educator with the U.S. Army Public Health Command. “While this burst of energy can help Soldiers get through a battle or even overcome a difficult obstacle course during training, chronic stress is not a good thing.”

Army Specialist (Spc.) Erin Cortez Jones is someone who helps others “soldier” through hard challenges. “When I was having a down time about things at home, he was able to lift my spirits and make jokes to help me feel better,” states Spc. T. Weatherspoon. This simple act of caring helps insure that a confident, highly-trained warrior maintains his ability to survive.

An Oceanside, Calif. native, Jones first clarifies that Erin, typically a female name, is really his. He grew up seeing the world as the son of a Marine who served as a Master Gunnery Sergeant. In Japan, Jones and his younger brother went out together a lot. “I just wanted to party and have fun the rest of my life,” admits Jones. “He [his brother] went out one night without me and had a situation happen I can’t speak on. It was enough to send me a wake-up call to better myself before I end up where he almost ended up. I decided to up and join the military.”

No problem for a Marine Corps brat to go Army. Jones’ father, a 27-year veteran, was proud he’d joined a branch and felt the Army would be a better fit for his son. “I’m used to being goofy, energetic, and fun,” says Jones. In addition, his listening skills can pull someone away from their unhealthy thinking.

As an Automated Logistical Specialist, Jones calls what he does “UPS for the military.” “We supply the parts needed to have equipment mission-ready and to keep track of what and where it is being used at all times,” says Jones. In one of what he dubs his “personal battles,” he puts the crosshairs on threats to combat readiness, “We had someone new who was pretty upset in our shop. Instead of letting him storm off, I sat him down and talked to him letting him know he’ll be alright. He continued on for us and the mission.”

While serving in Kuwait 2013, with 4th Brigade Support Battalion (4BSB), Sgt. Brett Madara, his first-line supervisor stated, “From the beginning of deployment to when he left, he showed great motivation. He always shows up ready to accomplish the task at hand.”

Computerized logistics requires skills Jones had before he joined. “I’ve been in computer classes since kindergarten. I adapted how to operate computers inside and out and how to make one from scratch if needed. There are a whole lot of tricks of the trade using Microsoft Excel, Word, the Internet and Google — you must be very well-versed.”

Jones says, “We have those days – it’s overwhelming – there’s too much going on and I’m like, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ It’s rare for me to do that, because if I’m the one that starts thinking like that, everyone’s going to start thinking like that.”

“There are always people that find so much negative, they forget to look at the positive. Find the positive in everything you do.” Jones musters his own strength while making sure everyone laughs and has a good day. His go-to leaders inspire him and his iPod placates his passion for music.

Now stationed at Ft. Carson, Colo., Jones’ days are spent ordering, receiving, and issuing repair parts, along with opening and closing job orders for the battalion and sister battalions around 4BSB. He’s also an equipment dispatcher.

Jones knows culture shock, extreme heat and lack of comfort, pressure, system flaws, and personality clashes. Call to combat hovers like a stubborn cloud…consequences of decisions are in perpetual motion…

A logistics guy supplies a part to a Humvee in a supply convoy whose lead driver was yesterday – feeling blue. After getting a handle on stress, today the Humvee driver’s senses are sharp and suggests going down an alternate road – avoiding suspicious IEDs. One less wheelchair will be filled, no family will go fatherless and needed supplies will reach their intended destination.

In those supplies is a rifle part, so when that ground soldier faces a kinetic enemy – his defense will be swift and sure. With the enemy out of the neighborhood, a displaced foreign family can come home – free to work and live without the stress of tyranny.

Spc. Erin Cortez Jones, who wanted to serve his way, is helping the Army win their battles in more ways than one saying, “I’m pretty content here. I might make a career out of it.”