Kelsey, who joined the sheriff’s department in 2006 under the leadership of David Simon, was the resource officer at the Grayson County Middle School. He transferred to road patrol in 2008 when Sheriff Rick Clemons was elected and he has spent his days and nights protecting the citizens of Grayson County.
Last January, Kelsey was called to active duty when his Tennessee National Guard Unit was scheduled to deploy to Iraq. Kelsey spent seven months “in country” as part of a security force that escorted convoys and logistical patrols in Iraq.
“I never minded being over there one bit,” said Kelsey. “This was my second tour. I did miss my family and life here but I would not trade my experience in the military for anything.”
Kelsey said has spent the last 21 years in the military, currently serving as part of Second Squadron 278th Armored Calvary National Guard Unit in Cooksville Tennessee.
“As part of a National Guard Unit I find that the average age of the soldiers is 30 to 35 and we train 52 days a year to do all that the Army does in a full year,” said Kelsey. “Our unit goes on a six year cycle so we knew we were scheduled to deploy and were prepared for it.’
He has found the major difference in today’s force verse those from years ago to be in sending and receiving information data.
“Today we send a text and it is received immediately,” said Kelsey. “We send information instantly and it is received instantly and evaluated quicker, getting it to the troops a lot quicker.”
He also said the soldier is different, “These kids today graduate with a computer skill level that we never dreamed of when I joined.”
Kelsey said his unit knew about six months before they were set to deploy that he would have to return to active duty and would be sent to Iraq. He felt this knowledge helped his family prepare for his departure.
“That was hard, leaving my wife behind with our three kids,” said Kelsey. “ Then I came back and my son grew from 5 ft 5 inches to 5 ft 9 inches and his voice changed from that boyish tone to a more manly rasp. The girls changed too.”
Kelsey returned from Iraq almost three weeks ago and returned to job his with the Grayson County Sheriff Office last week.
“I love my job here but I really feel my calling is at home with my three teenagers and the six other teens living at the ranch,” said Kelsey. “My wife and I moved here to start this, so it is new.”
Currently, the Kesleys have nine children, all teenagers, which live there and attend school at Bethel Christian School in Breckinridge County.
“Kids have always been my love,” said Kelsey. “This ranch is a nonprofit organization set up to help instill good work ethics and a good education in the teens that live here. But the biggest thing we do is talk to the kids about God.”
The teens that are staying with the Kelseys are from other states as well as other countries.
“Right now we have two kids from Kenya and one from Oklahoma. These kids add a colorful mix to the house,” said Kelsey. “We try to point them all in the right direction so they can be successful adults.”
Kelsey said, returning to the Sheriff’s Office was not difficult but remembering the roads and how they connect has proven to be a challenge.
“The roads have not changed any but it has been a little difficult at times remembering where they all are,” said Kelsey. “I do like the fact that I am dealing with people one-on-one again. When we were in country and we discovered a problem we just called the Iraqi police and they took care of it.”
Clemons is glad to have Kelsey back on the force.
“When he brought us the news that he would be deployed, I knew it would be hard on his family and it would be hard on us too,” said Clemons. “It was like part of our family was gone. I told him when he left that his job would be waiting when he returned and I am glad he is back, serving the citizens of our county.”
Clemons added, “Jeff is such a great family man and a terrific officer. I appreciate what he has done for our country and am proud to say he is a part of our department.”