Photo courtesy of: Chillicothe Campus
Apr 24, 2013
By OU-C public relations student writer Jasmine Garcia
Jonathan Parker is no ordinary Ohio University-Chillicothe student; rather, he is a combat veteran with a passion for music.
Parker, who is an Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, was also a member of the prestigious 82nd Airborne All American Chorus.
The former Army sergeant, who was an artillery forward observer during his enlistment from January 2007 through November 2010, toured across the United States and abroad with the chorus. However, Parker began his pursuit of music long before his Army days.
"I have always been singing," Parker said. "I started learning guitar when I was 10 and in high school I had a 'garage' band where I performed at school and at events."
Parker has always written songs as an outlet to express himself but didn't realize how beneficial his songwriting was until returning from his enlistment.
"After some events in Iraq I realized the healing power of my music," he said. "I understood there were others in pain, and we shared that, even though nobody wanted to speak about it."
One of Parker's songs, "I Want the Pain To End," was written for those who have suffered a loss and to help them understand that tomorrow brings a new day and with that new hope and beginnings, Jonathon said. Parker's songs can be found on YouTube under "jonparkermusic."
"When I got my ‘battle rattle' I had real problems with my short term memory and other brain function but I could remember songs and I could sing," Parker said. "My music helped with my physical healing as well as my mental health."
"You don't get 'over it,' but you learn to ‘get along' with it, said Jonathon. "I am still a work in progress."
Parker's power of musical healing is something he hopes will help others with post battle coping the same way it has helped him.
"I want others who have served to know they are not alone in how they feel, and that it is 'normal'," Parker said. "Sometimes the most alone you are is in a crowd where you do not feel understood."
Parker recently sang the National Anthem at an ROTC ball on the Athens campus. Parker's desire to help others has translated well into his choice of degree. He is currently working towards his associate degree in Human Services Technology at OU-C with plans to become a substance abuse counselor and will graduate next fall.
Parker met faculty members Barbara Mahaffey and Mary Jane Preece at an OU-C open house and decided that the Chillicothe Campus was a good fit for him.
"The HST program had a family feel to it and was simply made for someone like me," Parker said.
Parker currently works at the VA Medical Center in Chillicothe and has goals to finish his bachelor's degree in social work at OU-C and complete his master's degree, so he can work with his fellow veterans.
"Having walked in the shoes of a soldier, I know that there are experiences that the most well-meaning councilors may have empathy, but don't really understand," Parker said. "I have walked in those shoes, and I know what it is to fight to come through and continue on. I know the warrior ethos."