Disabled student veteran Jeremy Rawls, who served two combat tours in Iraq, was allegedly suspended from Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss. and labeled a threat to himself and other students. Why? The former Marine, who is diagnosed with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), says the suspension came after he requested to meet with a different counselor in the school’s Office of Counseling and Disability Services. During his initial visit to the office, he was paired with a female counselor who wore traditional Muslim dress.
From an exclusive interview at Campus Reform:
“It’s not that I didn’t want to participate… I didn’t want to traumatize her and it wasn’t a good environment to be talking about [my disabilities] with that specific person,” Rawls said.
Rawls’s original reason for visiting the school’s counseling office was to pick up paperwork intended for his professors, a task that had been delayed because of a lengthy recovery from knee surgery.
“Every semester I have to identify with the school as disabled and they give me letters to give to my professors,” Rawls explained. “This semester I had a surgery at the beginning which caused some issues in getting some letters.”
According to Rawls, his attempts to meet with staff members to discuss the school’s policy about changing counselors were repeatedly ignored and it wasn’t until a recent meeting with administrators that he was able to speak with staff.
“Their response was suspending me pending a mental evaluation which I provided and then they put me on further restriction and a reintegration program,” Rawls said.
Associate Dean of Students Jonathan Ambrose notified Rawls of his suspension in an email, which read, in part, administrators and the Student Intervention Team have a “due diligence in not only the protection of yourself, but also the campus community as a whole from potential harm or the threat there of.” Another email notified Rawls that he is not permitted to be on campus for any reason or attend class during the duration of the Interim Suspension unless he has written permission.
“To have been a marine and to tell us we’re a threat…that’s actually a compliment,” said Rawls. “But telling me I’m a threat to others was extremely offensive”…
“The college itself is very supportive, there is just an ignorance toward veterans with PTSD and they are demonized so much by the media which led to confusion about what they [MC administrators] were dealing with,” Rawls said.
Rawls was granted permission to “reintegrate back into academics” after fulfilling the school’s request for an independent mental evaluation, but he’s still unable to attend on-campus events or participate in student organizations. As recently as last Thursday, Rawls met with administrators hoping to fully participate in both academics and extracurricular activities in the coming school year. The issue still has not been resolved at the time of this publication.