A Mississippi College student — and Iraq War combat vet — is going public with complaints that a program designed to help those with post-traumatic stress disorder is actually labeling him a “threat” for requesting to meet with a non-Muslim counselor.
In an interview with the conservative website Campus Reform, Marine Jeremy Rawls said he wasn’t looking for trouble.
“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,” he told the website.
Rawls told Campus Reform he’s has been diagnosed with combat-related PTSD after serving two combat tours in Iraq and as a private contractor in Afghanistan. Rawls’ female counselor came to the initial interview wearing tradition Muslim garb, Campus Reform reported.
Rawls told Campus Reform that he made several attempts to meet with staff members to find out how to change counselors but was repeatedly ignored until administrators at the school in Clinton, Miss., suspended him for his request.
“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.
An email was sent to Rawls on Feb. 26 from Associate Dean of Students, Jonathon Ambrose, and was later obtained by Campus Reform. It read, “You are not permitted to be on campus for any reason or attend class during the duration of the Interim Suspension unless you have written permission.”
The email also stated that the 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.”
But in a statement posted on the school’s Twitter and Facebook accounts Tuesday, Mississippi College said Rawls’ account is skewed.
Citing privacy regulation, the statement is skimpy on details, but reads, in part:
“On Monday, May 25, Campus Reform, a web-based news website, ran an inaccurate story related to the suspension of Jeremy Rawls, a Marine combat veteran who is a Mississippi College student. Due to federal educational privacy regulations, we are unable to release specific information related to students. But we want to clarify that Rawls was not suspended for the reasons the story revealed.
“Campus Reform stated that Mr. Rawls was suspended from Mississippi College because of his request to switch counselors. This statement is not true. While Mississippi College cannot specify the details related to Mr. Rawls temporary suspension, we want to firmly deny these accusations. In addition, the action did not occur because he is a Marine combat veteran.
“Following the initial interim suspension, Mr. Rawls was allowed to continue his coursework. Mississippi College officials were able to meet with Rawls late last week to discuss his return to his student worker position. He was informed of the decision lifting his student work suspension on Friday, May 22, two days prior to the release of the first story. In that meeting, Rawls was thanked by MC officials for helping the Christian university clarify some of its working procedures related to disabilities and coordinating with the VA.”
Whatever happens, Rawls, a rising senior, said he isn’t giving up and plans to graduate from Mississippi College next spring.
“If they’ll do this to me, and I’m one of the most outspoken veterans on campus, they’ll definitely do this to others,” he said.
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