Jeremy Rawls, a senior at Mississippi College and former active-duty Marine who served two combat tours in Iraq was suspended by the school administration after he requested to meet with a non-Muslim counselor.
Rawls has been diagnosed with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and was assigned to a female counselor that wore traditional Muslim clothing.
In an interview with Campus Reform, Rawls said, “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.”
Originally, Rawls was to pick up paperwork from the college’s Office of Counseling and Disability Services for his professors, and he tried to meet with faculty to talk about changing counselors. Rawls’ attempts were repeatedly ignored until recently.
“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 explained.
Associate Dean of Students, Jonathan Ambrose said, “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 threat thereof.”
Rawls was not permitted on campus during the suspension unless given written permission and was later notified to resume his studies at the school he would have to undergo an independent mental evaluation. The college also requested he provide access to his medical records to the counseling department where the problem occurred.
“To have been a Marine and to tell us we’re a threat… that’s actually a compliment, but telling me I’m a threat to others was extremely offensive.” He added, “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 administration] were dealing with,” he stated.
A complaint has been filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and he’s currently seeking legal counsel.
Although still in the process of working through the issues with administration, Rawls is hopeful that the problems will be resolved and he can resume his studies next year.
Campus Reform, also reported:
In addition to serving in the Marine Corps, Rawls worked as a private contractor in Afghanistan and was a member of the Army National Guard for seven years. He was on active-duty in Iraq during the Second Battle of Fallujah – named the bloodiest battle of the Iraq War – and says he’s lost many friends to suicide due to PTSD.
Rawls said that the actions of the school showed a need for “cultural change” and he expects to see other veterans on college campuses given similar treatment. He expressed concern about the misunderstandings of those suffering from PTSD, and said he doesn’t see a short-term solution to the issue.
Mississippi College was contacted about the incident but was not available for comment.