Veteran battles school over PTSD discrimination charges

Double Tap:  Vet battles PTSD discrimination case with Mississippi College

Veteran battles school over PTSD discrimination charges

Who: Jeremy Rawls, a former Marine and Army National Guardsman 


What: Rawls attended a required meeting at school for PTSD and service related issues. The school’s representative was a Muslim female with whom Rawls did not feel comfortable discussing his war-related issues. He requested a new counselor, but instead the school suspended him. To protect his status for the semester, Rawls couldn’t speak out about the issue until the end of semester. His concern for the staggering 22-a-day statistic has him standing up for veteran rights across the board.

       “I want them to change their policy and show it. I want this to be an example to other schools to not take it as a joke. Just because we have PTSD or anxiety doesn’t mean we’ll flip out. They don’t need to be afraid.”.

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THE FULL STORY as a Veteran battles school over PTSD discrimination charges

When Jeremy Rawls, a former Marine and Army National Guardsman, attended his mandatory meeting with counselors at Mississippi College, he had no notion that he ignited a tinderbox that would lead to him being suspended from school.


He walked into the room for a mandatory session with a school counselor to discuss how the school staff would accommodate his combat-related disabilities (i.e. he must always carry a water bottle due to lung disease), and was met by a female counselor wearing a full hijab. She looked at him with fear in her eyes.

“I saw her and thought, ‘Would she feel comfortable with someone like me in the room?’” Rawls said. “All of my disabilities are combat related; I wouldn’t want to talk to her with about all of the cultural and religious differences.”

He noted that the issues directly resulted from combat, a topic that would make them both distinctly uncomfortable.

That was the first time she looked at my stuff and I could tell she was scared. That makes me the bad guy even though I had to be there – it wasn’t by choice.” 

The firestorm that followed unnerved his emotions and elicited his protective streak – of the woman, and his fellow veterans who might be caught unawares.

“You expect to trust the community and the college you go to,” Rawls said. “You see all the horrible stuff in the world and come home to see this…there’s no trust anymore.”

Aggravation crept up on him little by little as he discussed with coworkers and fellow veterans his concern, that other veteran students might not cope well in the same situation. It triggered some issues and emotions over the weekend and he felt the need to make the school aware of the hostile situation they created.

I didn’t go in on any type of abrasive level,” Rawls stressed. “I couldn’t share any of the information, stayed cordial, and finished up the meeting…I feel like they kind of threw her under the bus.”

He expressed concern for her comfort and sensitivity to her situation repeatedly. That concern was influenced by the of years of sensitivity training he received; particularly before each of his four deployments (two in Iraq and two as a contractor in Afghanistan), as well as his four years of service as a Marine Corps mechanic with Alpha Company, Second Tank Battalion, and the seven-and-a-half years of duty as an infantryman in the Army National Guard.

He left the office thinking nothing was accomplished in the initial counseling session. But the more he thought about that meeting, the more unnerving the situation became. He mentioned the meeting to a few veteran coworkers and, after thinking about it over the weekend, decided he needed to act. Rawls was concerned other veterans would be put into a similar situation and he didn’t want them caught unawares.

“We lose 22 vets a day to suicide,” a tragic number that recently includes Rawls’ close friend, a fact he communicated with the school. He worried that other veterans might not be able to cope with being blindly thrown into an uncomfortable situation as he was.

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The following Monday he decided to e-mail the school staff. He didn’t hear anything for two days, but when his wife called, that’s when things escalated.

The college staff called him in for another meeting.

Rawls expected to talk about them assigning a different counselor and the need for a change in policy. Instead they sprang a suspension contract on him.

“They never met with me or talked to me and that was it,” Rawls said. “I didn’t know about the suspension.”

The school officially denies that he was suspended and deemed a threat because of his status as a combat veteran; however, they refuse to state the reason he had to miss a week of classes, was banned from school activities for most of the semester, and was not allowed to continue his employment at the school’s veteran center.

Their press release states “While Mississippi College cannot specify the details related to Mr. Rawls temporary suspension, we want to firmly deny these accusations [suspension because of his request to switch counselors].”

“I’d like to know why they suspended me then, I didn’t do anything else,” said Rawls, who sent a formal letter requesting formal documentation, and has yet to receive an answer. Though the statement sent to Rawls from the school presented a different tale.

In a letter dated February 26, the associate dean of students wrote, “After discussing the totality of the circumstances…the Student Intervention Team unanimously agrees that we 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.”

“I did not like being called a liar,” Rawls said. “The more that happens, the longer I’m going to be here fighting. They keep making up stuff and saying things that are not true. I have everything I need to prove my case. If they had just owned up to it we could have gone forward – they didn’t have to start lying.”

Not only was he barred from attending classes, the school demanded access to his health records, treatment plans and progress summaries confirmation of dates of service, diagnosis and other things not previously demanded in accommodating his specific needs for physical issues stemming from combat experience.

Rawls jumped through the school’s hoops, including a required reintegration program, to return to classes. They wanted access to his medical records and demanded he attend more therapy, despite the local Department of Veteran’s Affairs’ insistence it wasn’t necessary. He was restricted from all activities outside of class to include associations and sporting events, and even his job within the school’s veteran outreach office. He has since filed an Equal Employment Occupation Commission complaint because they discriminated against him and kept him from his job.

“They poured a lot of salt in my wounds, and I’ve dealt with it all semester,” Rawls said. “I couldn’t say anything, so I had to wait or I’d lose my credits. I had to be quiet until now. I don’t plan on being quiet any longer.”

“I want them to change their policy and show it,” Rawls said. “I want this to be an example to other schools to not take it as a joke. Just because we have PTSD or anxiety doesn’t mean we’ll flip out. They don’t need to be afraid.”


Share Jeremy Rawls’ story here

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16 thoughts on “Veteran battles school over PTSD discrimination charges”

  1. When I was in school I felt like some of the professors went into some of the topics of discussion that were in the book and found some way to make veterans out to be some kind of raping/murdering robots, who’s ultimatum was go to war or go to jail. And there they(professors) were spewing their bias to these young adults who just left high school and were soaking all this up because, the professor is always right, right? So then I was getting into arguments in class with these professors and dispelling their nonsense, but it’s too much, the schools have us by the short and curlys.

  2. Preposterous! This is NO WAY to treat veterans, especially combat veterans that are already dealing with issues the general public can’t understand. Shame on the Mississippi College for their lack of care and sensitivity. Why aren’t policy makers (within the district and state) leaning in on this issue??

  3. Anrae Godley-Cooper

    I tried the school thing and it didn’t go well for me either, these schools are just way out of touch with us veterans and it’s not going to get any better until us veterans make it better for us , losing 22 veterans a day to suicide is a down right slap in our face because them cowards in charge don’t live up to their oath and they refuse to help us in a timely manner, they seem to care more about the leaches in this country than us veterans and these schools are the same, Blessings to this brother and the rest of my Brothers and Sisters in Arms going through it, just don’t give up and don’t feel bad for seeking help.

  4. This Guy gave away his Honor to Appease the school bc he was worried about a credit or a school Job or what the fuck ever. Handing over personal medical records exc. There is eathier more to the story….or this guy has no fuckin backbone. There is a reason why you are a Veteran. You live by Honor loyalty & Respect. Someone breaks the principles you live by you fuckin WALK. Does not matter the COST. No Policy will change. Move on

    1. Sam.
      So what you’re sayin is…who gives a fuck about the credits he is working towards to get a degree. Maybe he has a family and they depend on that BAH. There’s a difference in being a hardass and moving on to another school, and trying to solve things diplomatically without blowing things out of proportion. He went the diplomatic route instead of the bonehead route.

  5. This is like the “Crazed Vietnam Vet” scenario all over again. Part of VALOR’s (free) Veterans Unstoppable war-to-peace program we help the vet deal with relationships, long term (family, spouse- significant other) or short term (clerk, check-out counter, interviewer). How you “show up” to others is important- when relationships break down, our lives unravel. We can help.
    Jeremy Rawls was treated unfairly. Trying to improve the situation for other vets is an honorable thing to do. God bless you for it. I know because I’ve walked that trail. Let me know if I can help
    Glen Lippincott
    A Co. 3/21st Inf 196 Light Inf Brigade Vietnam 1970-1971, CIB & PH

  6. Elaine Roberts

    We care and are behind you all the way. Talk about discrimination.
    First I would reach out to local veterans groups. We belong to the American Legion,VFW, and the DAV as well as local groups of vets and those families.

    We live outside Ft Rucker and trust me, our local Junior College and trade schools would not get away with stuff like that. I recommend you reach out to one or all in your state. Many vets hold positions of power in towns and cities. We know people. Legal assistance may be available. Tell your story to a newspaper or tv reporter. Get the number of the College Dean and ask people to call on your behalf.

    Good luck! Keep up the fight but keep your cool.

  7. It is truly sad how the actual victim here becomes the villain simply out of laziness and the need to be overly politically correct on the part of the school administration.

    The battle for our veterans is one that is far from over, unfortunately, as this case proves. All we can do is keep fighting for them and hope that more veterans like Jeremy come forward to tell their stories so we can blow this wide open.

  8. What right does a University have, to counsel you on PTSD in order to attend? Do you have to be diagnosed with PTSD in order to receive this “gift”? Or are they giving this lovely little BS chat to every Veteran?

  9. Every Combat Veteran with PTSD

    Wow this shows how ignorant people are in our country today I have similar feelings and disabilities as Rawls. I suffer from the same combat related PTSD and TBI and hopefully I’m wrong but do the people handling this situation are scared he’s gonna flip out and go on a rampage or do something violent? Just because we stood up for our country when most people sit down and just because we (as combat veterans) were willing to walk the front lines and give our lives for everyone who enjoys the freedom of America we get treated the same as the coward sick individuals that shoot up innocent people in public places!?? I understand the fear people live in because of what happens these days but this country needs to wake the F up and get educated on what it is combat veteran’s deal with and remember what we stand for! Especially when so many of our brothers gave their lives for each and every person that stands behind the freedoms we were willing to die for and still many more of our brothers take their own lives today because they feel it’s easier than living with the burden of dealing with what we were willing to do!

  10. Okay, I get the college had concerns. In this modern day landscape where school campus shootings are an all-too-common occurrence, they had some misgivings. But their reaction to Rawlings’ request to switch counselors was way over the top. As a combat veteran who’s experienced mild, temporary symptoms of PTSD following return from deployment, I can understand how discussing these issues with someone in a full hijab could be potentially distressing and uncomfortable for both parties. The college’s failure in recognizing the potential issues with their choice of counselors as well as their mishandling of the situation in the meeting’s aftermath clearly demonstrates their lack of understanding and empathy towards veterans’ needs and issues. Not every vet who experiences PTSD symptoms is a danger to others, and the best remedy is not being ostracized but feeling empathy and understanding and a willingness to help from their friends, families and communities. Epic fail, Mississippi State!

  11. Yeah, I know the feeling – had a prof that you can tell had the same demeanor. For a person who barely left his teeny little town at all in his life, we came to some common ground, which I instigated – LOL – I would stay in the back of the class, quietly, (yeah right!) – if he would stop any negative feelings, expressions, or suggestions about the military or my duration in. I have high-Anxiety and depression, that’s no excuse either, but he deals with me as I do the same. Neutral ground or higher ground? Who cares!! Just because people are educating you for which you are paying them, doesn’t give them the right treat you wrongly, different or insignificant. Sounds like they don’t enjoy that security blanket you provided.

    Like I told my kids “You embarrass me, I embarrass you!”. Jeremy Rawls, give ’em hell til it hurts – them!

    Blaine A.

  12. I’m not a vet and I have ptsd. I think he did the right thing. Hopefully people stand up with him and fight for the rights he has. I have plenty of military vets in my family. And trust me they would not stand for this type of fuckery! Hell I wouldn’t if it was my family member! I would get in touch with anyone you could to get your story out there. Contact a lawyer about discrimination?! I’m going to share this story. Let’s see how many ppl get pissed about it. Vets and non…

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