Spice use: Former Airman warns others of dangers

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee
  • 52 Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Seth Jones had a career in the U.S. Air Force's security forces.

He was ambitious. He had goals. He established a solid reputation within his squadron, used his military benefits to further his education and earned a 6-month-early promotion.

Then, at a farewell party for an upcoming deployment, he participated in an event which would later change his life forever. He smoked Spice.

Spice is a synthetic cannabis blend, which produces effects similar to marijuana when used. The use of mind-altering drugs is prohibited according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the legal doctrine for all U.S. military members.

"I felt really uncomfortable, and I didn't want to do it," Jones said of smoking due to peer pressure. "It was a mistake -- one of the worst I've ever made. It was a tough situation, and I made the wrong choice."

Six months after that night, upon his return from a deployment to Afghanistan, agents from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations approached Jones with questions regarding his alleged Spice use. The OSI agents had gleaned Jones' name from other Spice users they had caught.

With a shudder, Jones recalls his reaction to the initial meeting with the special agents.

"As soon as I answered the door and saw OSI, I knew what it was about," he said. "Spice."

"I had this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach," he continued. "My mistake was going to come back and haunt me."

Jones had options. The evidence against him for Spice use was his word versus another's. He could have fought or lied, and he may have even won the case.

But, he didn't. He told the truth and admitted his wrongdoing.

"I lost rank, forfeited some pay and had additional days of duty," he said, "but that is minimal against getting discharged. I did everything I could to stay in the Air Force, but it's black and white -- I cannot be retained."

Jones is no longer in the Air Force.

"We'll never know what Seth Jones could have done, what he could have been in the Air Force," said Master Sgt. Jason Garo, 52nd Security Forces Squadron acting first sergeant.

Garo dealt with Jones' circumstance throughout the discharge process.

"Where can I stand?" he asked. "I hate to punish someone like Jones, who has a superb history, but what can you do? The service may lose an otherwise stellar Airman, but the Air Force retains and upholds the standards and discipline needed in the military."

Garos asks Airmen to think about how every decision will affect their lives, not just today or next week, but for the rest of their lives.

"If [Jones] had just sat and reflected for one minute on what it means to be a United States Airman ..." he said. "His decision completely failed the core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do."

When the discharge was announced, Jones began speaking out to base Airmen on the dangers of Spice use.

"It doesn't matter how well you've done in your career," Jones said. "You cannot make mistakes like this. Regardless of the good you've done, you lose everything you've worked for.

"It's your decision," he said of Airmen on the verge of experimenting with drug use. "But [if you decide to do it,] it's the worst choice you will ever make."