Dr. Amy Jones, pediatric resident at UNC Children's, met her husband, Capt. Jason Jones, in December 2009, through Jason's sister.
"We instantly clicked and it was as if we had known each other forever," Amy says.
They married at West Point on June 15, 2013 -- less than a year later, Jason was killed in Afghanistan.
Amy remembers receiving the knock at the door.
"It was the worst day of my life," she says.
Since Jason's death, Amy has been an active member of the Special Ops Survivors community in Chapel Hill and across the country. The mission of Special Ops Survivors is to embrace and empower spouses of fallen heroes. The organization provides individual emotional support, group emotional support and financial assistance to survivors in various stages of the grieving and healing process.
"I learned of Special Ops Survivors shortly after my husband was killed and was able to attend their annual retreat a few months later," Amy says. "The women I met that weekend were the first widows I had met and forever altered my grief journey for the better."
Amy has continued to find support and strength from these women and the organization over the past year, and she went to her second retreat this past October. She even ran her first marathon, the Marine Corp Marathon, in Quantico, Virginia, last year with team Special Ops Survivors.
In addition to the support she has received from Special Ops Survivors, she also credits her colleagues at UNC with helping her after Jason's death. The first people to arrive at her house after she was notified were the UNC pediatric residency program directors, one of the pediatric chief residents and subsequently two of her best friends and co-pediatric residents.
"I have felt incredibly supported from that day onward," Amy says. "UNC staff even traveled to Pennsylvania for Jason’s funeral. I would not have been able to get through this past year without the support of both my families at Special Ops Survivors and UNC Hospitals."
On Sunday, Dec. 6, Amy and members of the UNC School of Medicine's Military Medicine Interest Group (MMIG), which works to support veterans across North Carolina, including groups such as Special Ops Survivors, were honored on military appreciation day at the Dean E. Smith Center, at halftime of the men's basketball game versus Davidson. On the court were Amy, neonatologist Dr. Martin McCaffrey and pediatric surgeon Dr. Timothy Weiner, who serve as faculty advisers to MMIG, and Ensign Matthew Braswell, MMIG medical student leader.
Amy was well supported by three of her co-residents who accompanied her and stood with her on the edge of the floor: Dr. Whitney Sherry, Dr. Beth Sandberg, and Dr. Peyton Wilson. They were there to hug her and wipe away tears as she came off the floor.
"Capt. Jason Jones was a warrior with a servant's heart," Dr. McCaffrey said after the ceremony. "He died in Jalalabad in 2014 defending his military brothers, his family and his country. Dr. Amy Jones is a warrior with a servant's heart as well. She fights on different battlefields. She is an inspiring physician but she has also committed herself to supporting other families whose Special Operations spouses have made the ultimate sacrifice."
For more UNC Medical Center military news, visit http://news.unchealthcare.org/military.