Michele Jones is intimately acquainted with service. The Maryland native has built a career serving in the active and reserve components of the Army, supporting missions in Kosovo and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Now she is serving again
Jones is one of many Veterans who have volunteered to test a new vaccine for COVID-19. She says her reasons are simple: To help make things better for her family and community.
“I’m volunteering because sometimes you have to ask yourself, ‘What can I do to make this better? How can I literally put my core beliefs, who I am, into action?’ If I believe in something strong enough, I’m willing to commit myself 100%.
“If being a volunteer enables scientists to find a vaccine for COVID-19, I’m willing to do that.”
Serving as a role model for others
During her career, Jones has had many opportunities to take up a call to action for an important cause. She was the first woman to attain the rank of command sergeant major in the U.S. Army Reserve, championing women’s rights and serving as a role model for others.
At one point, Jones was the highest ranking African American enlisted woman in any branch of the U.S. military. She believes that effective leaders lead best through a willingness to put themselves in the shoes of their subordinates, to lead by example.
Jones says she is motivated to test a new vaccine because she knows the importance of including people from minority groups in vaccine trials, many of whom are being hit hard by the coronavirus.
According to scientists, a vaccine for COVID-19 will be effective only if it is tested in a diverse group of people, one that includes men and women, young and old, Black, white, Hispanic, and other individuals.
“One size does not always fit everyone. If you want a vaccine to be the right type for the right person, you have to become involved, period,” Jones says, encouraging other African-Americans to sign up to test a COVID-19 vaccine.
Two daughters positive for COVID-19
“You cannot sit back and criticize things,” she continues. “If you have an opportunity to be part of something bigger than yourself, then you need to step up and do that.”
There is one other group that means quite a bit to Jones. She is the mother of four daughters, two of whom have tested positive for COVID-19. “We always say as mothers, we will do anything for our children. I am doing this for my children,” she says.
How to sign up
Anyone over the age of 18 can volunteer to participate in VA research by signing up for the COVID-19 research volunteer list. If you are eligible to participate in a study, you will be contacted by a study coordinator. The coordinator will answer your questions and help you decide if you wish to participate.