Jonathan Shute - Graduate

May 11, 2011
Jonathan Shute and Congressman Michael Michaud
Jonathan Shute - Graduate

At 19, Jonathan Shute was a Canadian citizen who had never fired a gun. Within a few years, he would be an American Marine and expert marksman.

Shute's transformation began in his tiny hometown of Woodstock, New Brunswick. His American-born father and Canadian mother instilled in him a deep appreciation for freedom. His grandfather told him stories from his time in the U.S. Navy. Still, Shute hadn't planned on joining the military. But when he graduated from high school in the spring of 2001, he realized he wasn't ready for college. The military seemed like a good alternative. "It gives you a leg up, some maturity."

Instead of joining the Canadian military, Shute used his dual citizenship to enlist in the Marines. "I got sucked in by the propaganda, the legend." Shute and his fellow Marines shipped out for Kuwait in January 2003, unsure exactly what their mission would entail.

With the invasion under way in March, 2003, Shute crammed into an armored troop carrier with 16 other Marines and crossed the border into Iraq. Shute held his automatic rifle and inhaled diesel fumes for the three-day trip. The following months were full of missions around southern Iraq looking for insurgents. Shute's battalion was sent back to the U.S. early after being deemed "combat ineffective" because of high casualty numbers. Shute still has shrapnel in his shoulder from an explosion.

While stateside, Shute's life progression sped up again. He met his future wife and volunteered to be a sniper in his unit. Shute would serve another seven months in Iraq before returning home to meet his three-week old daughter. He taught marksmanship to fellow Marines and survival skills at a wilderness school in Maine. After returning to operational forces, Shute was deployed to Mali to train military and police forces there. But, within two months, Shute decided it was time to leave the military.

He returned home from Africa for the birth of his son, and committed himself to spending more time with his family. Not long after leaving the Marines, Shute read about the Wounded Warrior Program (WWP). "I thought it was a unique opportunity."

As a case worker in the Lewiston, Maine office of Rep. Mike Michaud, Shute did mostly veterans affairs work, "helping people and problem solving." It was yet another surprising change of pace for Shute, one that he is enjoyed more than he thought he would.

Shute completed his fellowship on December 7. 2012 and will be returning to school to complete his degree in Environmental Geoscience.