Growing up on Air Force bases, Davett Jones was certain of her forward path: to follow her father’s footsteps with a military career.

She enlisted after high school, in 1997. While serving her country—and living her dream—she received a devastating diagnosis: multiple sclerosis (MS), an inflammatory disease of the brain and spinal cord.

FORGING A NEW PATH.

Medically discharged, and after three years of searching for civilian jobs, Jones felt defeated and depressed. After hearing “you can’t” over and over again, she dropped out of college in her second year.

And then she heard, “You can.”

Operation PAVE vocational counselor Pattrice Smith reached out to Jones. Smith motivated Jones to keep reaching. She advocated on Jones’ behalf; she made sure Jones knew her rights as a veteran and helped her get the tools she needed to succeed.

To overcome all the obstacles an illness like multiple sclerosis has placed in my path to success is no small task.

Smith found Jones a new state counselor who secured her school supplies and a laptop to help with graduate school studies in public relations and communications.

“Pattrice never shut me down about wanting to work,” Jones said. “She understands the process of the VA and helped me navigate counseling.” She says the Operation PAVE counselor understood what she was going through and treated her not as disabled, not like a number, but as a person—with a new plan forward.