- Associated Press - Sunday, April 27, 2014

BATESVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Becoming a doctor was a job 37-year-old Jermey Jones didn’t know he wanted. Then daughter Morgan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and epilepsy at the age of 5.

College, however, was something he knew he wanted, “and when I was 28 years old I realized that if I didn’t start now, then I probably never would,” he told The Batesville Daily Guard ( http://bit.ly/1hpfin2)

He knew he wanted to pursue a career in medicine, so while working a full-time job at GDX Automotive, Jones enrolled at University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville as a full-time student, receiving his associate degree two years later and becoming the first member of his family to go to college.

“At that point I decided to move to Jonesboro to finish my undergraduate education.”

Morgan was diagnosed not long after the move, and it was then that Jones said he “knew for certain that I wanted to be a physician.”

On July 1, the Independence County native will begin his medical residency at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, an assignment recently announced during the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ “Match Day.”

The day is a national event, typically held on the third Friday in March, where medical-school seniors find out where they will complete their postgraduate residency training.

The process begins with students and hospitals creating prioritized lists of their desired programs and specialties. The profiles are then fed into a computer system that matches the residency candidates with medical facilities across the nation.

What follows are months of interviews and waiting that culminates in a sealed envelope on Match Day.

Jones, who is in his fourth year of medical school, will spend three years in Pine Bluff and hopes to come back home to work in the Batesville area.

It’s an opportunity he is ready for and excited about with wife Becky and Morgan, now 11, but his belief in helping others goes beyond medical school.

A 1995 graduate of Newark High School, Jones enlisted in the Army as a combat engineer that same year. His task was to build bridges, but his tour led him to the war in Bosnia.

“I was stationed in Germany and was sent on numerous deployments to the Croatia/Bosnia border where we built and maintained a float bridge that allowed both military and civilians access into and out of Bosnia.

“Before we had arrived, all of the bridges along the border had been destroyed. Many of the buildings we saw there were riddled with bullet holes. Although I never experienced any combat firsthand, it was sad to see the aftermath of war and to hear the stories from the locals of having to basically live in hiding,” Jones said.

“Most of the people we spoke with had lost family members to the war. As bad luck would have it, at the time my company was tasked to build the float bridge, the area experienced the worst flood they had seen in over 100 years. As it turned out, the float bridge we made ended up being the longest built in military history.”

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