Hello, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1993 while serving in the Army overseas. In 1997, my medical history caught up with me and my military career ended.
I had always been physically active in athletics growing up and while in the Army I jumped out of airplanes and rapelled out of helicopters. I also had enjoyed running. When I was diagnosed, it was a crushing blow to my ego. I did not want to leave the Army and I didn't want to accept that I had MS. Images of being in a wheelchair scared me and I tried to deny that I had a problem.
I argued with military doctors for several years so I could remain a soldier. It wasn't until late 1996 when I was supposed to deploy to Bosnia for six months that an Army doctor began paperwork to have my case presented before a medical board.
Seven months later I was given a full medical retirement.
Yes, having MS can be difficult at times because there are so many "unknowns" and "what if" questions that surround the disease. The unknown origin and unpredictability provides no answers. However, I have learned to accept my MS and, even on bad days, I try to remember that I have MS, MS does not have ME.
My family, friends and co-workers have always been supportive. Their support, combined with my faith in God, has helped me maintain my sanity.
No one should let MS consume them. It can be managed and you can live a fairly active lifestyle. I created this web site to serve as a source of information and to make people aware that there are support networks available for people with MS.
Federal Communicators Network
National Association of Government Communicators
Jim Bolton is an Army veteran with a passion for journalism. He retired as a public affairs specialist with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Columbus, Ohio, in December 2006.
In the 2002 U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's Civilian Journalist of the Year competition, he placed third.
A native of Olean, N.Y., he enlisted in July 1987 and went to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.
Upon his graduation of the Basic Journalist Course at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Ind., he began a 10-year journey full of opportunities during three different assignments.
From January 1988 to June 1990, Bolton was assigned to the 27th Public Affairs Detachment and served as a staff writer for the Fort Drum Sentinel. While at Fort Drum, N.Y., he went on numerous deployments and garnered a 1989 1st Place award for News Writing in the U.S. Army Forces Command MG Keith L. Ware journalism competition.
Bolton then served as the editor of the 10th Area Support Group Coral Courier, Okinawa, Japan, from July 1990 - August 1993. During his tenure, he received 2nd Place awards for News and Commentary/Editorial writing in 1992 and the Coral Courier was named the U.S. Army Pacific’s best Army-Authorized newspaper three years in a row – 1991, 1992 and 1993.
In addition, he received a Department of the Army 3rd Place Award during the 1991 All-Army Photography Contest.
After leaving Okinawa, Bolton reported to Fort Lee, VA, where he served as a staff writer and editor of the Fort Lee Traveller. At this time, he received an honorable mention for News Writing in the 1993 U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command MG Keith L. Ware journalism competition.
He also served as the office noncommissioned officer-in-charge and a platoon sergeant during his stay in central Virginia.
His active-duty military service ended abruptly in 1997 when Bolton was medically retired as a result of a diagnosis for Multiple Sclerosis.
From February 1997 to February 1998, Bolton wore two hats and worked as a general assignments reporter covering news, government, business, education and law enforcement for the Hopewell News in Hopewell, VA, and as editor of the Fort Lee Trumpeter, a civilian publication geared toward the military at Fort Lee.
From February 1998 until August 2003, he worked as a public affairs specialist in the Fort Lee, VA, Public Affairs Office.
In August 2003, he joined the Corporate Communications/Public Affairs Staff at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service-Columbus.
Bolton has completed a number of Defense Information School military occupational specialty courses, including the Basic Journalist Course, Intermediate Photojournalism Course, Public Affairs Supervisors Course, Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course and Public Affairs Officers Course.
Bolton resides in Pound, Va. He is a former member of the American Legion and the National American Legion Press Assocation
Sensei Jim "Fireball" Bolton is certified to teach Self Defense nationwide, an inductee in the EUSAIMAA Black Belt Hall of Fame, has Multiple Sclerosis and holds a Black Belt in the Iron Dragon Martial Arts system: A combination of Okinawan Kenpo, Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Pressure Point Techniques, Tai Chi, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, and Jiu Jitsu.
Jim speaks with soldiers during a training exercise in 1999