‘It’s my purpose’: Jason Jipson helps veterans live better lives

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Jason Jipson is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who continues to help pull his brothers and sisters in arms up and out of the trenches.

And that’s why he is a recipient of a 2023 ESL Jefferson Award.

Jipson enlisted in the Marines straight out of high school, just a few years after 9/11.

“The first four years I was in Camp Lejeune. Deployed twice to Iraq in those 4 years,” he said.

During his eight years of service to our country, Jipson went through a lot physically, mentally, and emotionally.

At times, he considered taking his own life.

“There was one point when I thought, ‘Tonight’s the night’ and then I was like, ‘I’ll wait until tomorrow’ and the next morning I woke up and I was like, ‘This isn’t okay. The way this feels is not okay.'”

That was the beginning of a decades-long mental health journey. Jipson was one of the first veterans here in Monroe County to take part in Trybe Ecotherapy, an outdoor program designed specifically for veterans to manage the effects of stress, anxiety, depression, or trauma.

When he completed the program, he became a peer mentor to help those vets in line behind him.

“I am not a veteran. I never had military service. I’m a clinician and there’s a level of connection that Jason had with these folks, that I just will never have,” Lindsay Cray, chief program officer of Trybe Ecotherapy.

“He sees people struggling and he’s not afraid to go in where it’s a little dark sometimes and we all need people to grab us by the ears and drag us out of the rabbit hole when we go down there and Jason has been a big part of that for me,” said Thomas Borden, a U.S. Navy veteran.

“He’s always willing to get in the ditch with you. Jason is like, ‘It’s alright. I’m going to get in there and dig with you because I’ve been there before,'” Alan Bartlo, a Marine Corps veteran, said.

His work has helped veterans live better lives.

“I feel like it’s my purpose. It’s why I’ve been put on this earth is to do exactly what I’m doing and I couldn’t be able to do that unless all of that stuff happened,” Jipson said.

And this is not where Jason’s dedication to the community ends.

He’s also a coach for children with special needs at Miracle Field in Webster.

Children like Julian Munoz.

“He spoke to the president of the league and was able to get Julian on the team. We were shedding tears because we never thought Julian would be able to play on a ‘regular’ team,” his father, Dan Munoz, said about Jipson.

It’s brought so much joy to Julian, who thinks Jipson is pretty special.

“Fun, funny, hard worker, determined, helping others,” Julian said.

Lewke: Every part of your life touches other people.

Jipson, teary-eyed: “Yeah. It’s hard. I don’t think about it that way.”

But the countless veterans and children he has helped do.

Learn more about the 2023 ESL Jefferson Award winners during a special program airing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 3 on News10NBC.