It is said that a soldier is a soldier for life.

West Point native Maj. Gen. Reuben Jones lives that maxim with 34 years of service to the Army since earning his commission from Jackson State University in 1978. Since then he's served in Korea, Germany, and Afghanistan, and has made caring for Army families around the world his mission.

Jones, currently the deputy commanding general for operations at the Installation Management Command (IMCOM) in San Antonio, returned to his home state of Mississippi Nov. 9-10 to be recognized for his distinguished career and selfless service at several Veterans' Day events.

Jones rode with JSU Tiger Battalion ROTC students in the city of Jackson's first ever Mississippi Veteran's Day Parade downtown Nov. 10. The parade had participation from local high school and university JROTC programs, civic and veterans organizations.

"It's such a beautiful day. I love my country and I love my vets. They deserve so much love and support," said Theresa Hale, 49, an employee at the Department of Veterans Affairs Jackson Regional Office. "We need to give them more."

That afternoon, Jones was honored during the JSU vs. Alabama A&M Military Appreciate Game alongside the Adjutant General of Mississippi, Maj. Gen. Augustus Collins, and Brig. Gen. Robert Crear (Ret.), former commander of Task Force Hope and the Corps of Engineers Mississippi Valley Division.

But the message he carried was about those who have gone before him and those returning home.

"Generations of service members from West Point and the great state of Mississippi have answered the call of duty with courage and valor, and left their families and traveled a world away to take care of our Nation's business," Jones said. "So it is a great honor to be able to pay tribute to the men and women who have served during World War II, who served in Korea and Vietnam, who served in Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and who are serving today."

Jones also spoke at his hometown's Veterans' Day Ceremony Friday morning, encouraging citizens to take care of the 130,000 soldiers who will leave the Army this year alone.

"They will return to towns large and small looking for an opportunity to give back -- to give you a city manager, a banker, a doctor, a lawyer," he said.

President Obama signed into law the Veterans Opportunity to Work, or VOW Act last November, giving tax credits to businesses that hire unemployed and disabled veterans. The GI Bill still allows servicemembers to get an education. The Army offers transition support through its Army Career and Alumni Program 24/7 and is totally committed to seeing that veterans have every opportunity to be successful -- but can't do it alone, Jones said.

"Supporting our soldiers and veterans requires a team approach by the Army, other government agencies and the local community."

Jones encouraged community members to not just say thanks, but put words into action by bolstering vet-friendly businesses, volunteering for organizations that help vets and spreading the word about them.

"We have to rally for our vets and families, even harder now as they come back home," he said. "They need an opportunity to adjust to their new normal."

In his current post at IMCOM, Jones is responsible for the operations of this global command that brings quality-of-life programs and services to soldiers, Wounded Warriors, retirees, and family members at 154 installations worldwide. IMCOM provides housing, recreation, family and survivor support, child development, environmental and energy management, education services, training support, and a multitude of other programs and services to the total Army family.

Jones is the only JSU Tiger Battalion alumnus to earn the rank of major general. He will retired from the Army Jan. 1, 2013. He is married to Linda Jones. They have two children, Tiffany Ruiz and Reuben Jones, Jr., and two grandchildren, Rafael and Isabela Alicia.