Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing Joey Jones, Patient Communications Officer at Madigan Army Medical Center.
Hi Joey, Great to have you with us today! Please tell us about what it is that you do.
I live in University Place, Washington. I work throughout the Puget Sound managing marketing and advertising programs at Madigan and its outlying clinics that serve over 100,000 TRICARE beneficiaries in the area, as well as the California Medical Detachment at The Presidio of Monterey, located in Monterey, California. I am also a published writer. To date, I have written over 75 published health-related articles, including one of the first in DoD about COVID-19 in Jan 2020 when the first case was diagnosed here in Washington state. The work is extremely rewarding, and I'm honored to be able to serve America's best. I truly believe communication is a tool that can break down barriers, educate and raise awareness. I also independently do volunteer work not only here in University Place and Tacoma but around the country. I've also produced multimedia content and am a trained audio engineer. When I was younger, I produced instrumental music for dozens of TV shows like “Extreme Couponing,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Chopped,” and “Man vs. Food,” just to name a few.
Please tell us more about your journey.
I've had a career of ups, downs, setbacks, career changes, and amazing success. I had a near-fatal episode of Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes while in the ICU here in Tacoma back in 2018. I had never been diabetic, and it was sudden and abnormal for my age. I was always interested in giving back and doing things for others and the community, but that near-death experience made it more intense and somewhat of a calling. Since then, I have dedicated every day, also on a personal level, to show people you can beat diabetes. I was told I would take insulin for the rest of my life at 36 years old, and I was devastated. After leaving the hospital, I was weak, sick, and had extremely high blood sugars. I spent countless hours researching and learning more about how to beat diabetes. I began a strict ketogenic diet, a daily low-impact exercise routine, and took various natural supplements; and today, working closely with my endocrinologist, I've been off of insulin since February of 2020 and maintain healthy blood sugars consistently. I love talking about this with people suffering from diabetes and saying: “I did the work and improved my condition and overall health; maybe you can too.” Once recovered, I dived back into work like never before, raising awareness about health and wellness.
What are the strategies that helped you become successful in your journey?
Surrounding yourself with positivity and motivation is the key to success. There were times I felt down and out but kept pushing by taking time to read inspirational books from people in far worse situations and how they survived. I have a playlist of motivational speeches on YouTube I listen to daily as I prepare for my day. We have to take care of ourselves, know what it is we want to accomplish, then go for it 110% minimum. This has, I think, been a driving factor in my various successes and the amazing honors awarded to me throughout my career. I grew up as a boy scout, and at an early age, it was ingrained in me to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, and kind. All leaders must have and live by a set of values.
Besides your award-winning work as a healthcare communicator for military members & their families, tell us about some of the other work you've done in your community.
In addition to raising awareness about diabetes and overall wellness, I also am deeply concerned with our most vulnerable folks who need assistance. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, 3-4 times per week, I used instacart and local grocers to deliver food for people in need. I go where I know the aid is needed and deliver it personally. There are several outdoor foodbanks in my area that are open for anyone who needs food free of charge where I place non-perishables like canned goods several times per week also. Homelessness and poverty are something you see too often, and anything I can do, no matter how small, is one more person just trying to help. It's very much worth what I spend, and I'm sure it means a lot more to those on the receiving end.
I'm also a huge advocate for our military veterans and wounded, ill, or injured service members and retirees. I took great pride in playing a critical role in the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Tampa, Florida, which were hosted by comedian and activist Jon Stewart. I felt as a Public Affairs Officer, I was determined to give these heroes my very best effort in telling their individual stories. I didn't do it for recognition but as a sense of duty. I was humbled and surprised when I was later awarded for my efforts with an achievement medal. I've learned if you just focus on the mission and do your best, people notice, sometimes when you don't even realize anyone is watching. When the U.S. Army Surgeon General awarded me the Coin of Excellence in 2020, I almost cried. Always give it 110% and stay focused!
Thank you so much, Joey, for giving us your precious time! We wish you all the best for your journey ahead!