Editor’s Note: This story by Paul Butler was originally written for the local American Legion and VFW newsletters.
It took almost 28 years, but Jeff Rollins is finally living and working in his beloved hometown.
The son of Gloria Rollins and Everett Burns, he attended Wilmington City Schools from K-12, playing sports most of those years, so football, basketball and baseball were a natural for Jeff when he got to WHS.
While a junior, he enlisted in the Army under the Delayed Entry Program, and after graduation in 1991, he began his 24-year and 4-month career the United States Army.
Rollins’ service began at Ft. Leonardwood, Missouri, where he was assigned for recruit training (boot camp). From there he was transferred to Ft. Lee, Virginia, the home of the Army Quartermaster, Ordinance and Transportation Schools, as well as the Army Logistics University, for Advanced Training in Warehouse Supply.
With his initial training complete, Jeff received many assignments during his career, including four tours in Iraq and a return to Ft. Lee, to attend the Army Logistics University.
Rollins attributes his inspiration to continue and to excel in his service to his father-in-law, Sergeant Major Robert Lawson — a Vietnam veteran who was awarded the Bronze and Silver Stars and received two Purple Hearts in conjunction with his in-country deployments during the many years of conflict in Southeast Asia. He says he was a man very proud of his service to the country he loved and a role model.
In 2003, his father-in-law’s stature became evident in Rollins’ Army service during the Invasion of Iraq where he was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon while attached to an Army Air Assault Division there.
Sergeant First Class Jeffery A. Rollins received his Honorable Discharge on Jan. 13, 2014 and began his transition to civilian life. His first venture into civilian employment was with the United States Postal Service as a letter carrier in Hillsboro for about 14 months, then a year as a corrections officer for the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, before discovering his second career — serving as a Veterans Service Officer (VSO).
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) hired and trained Jeff as a VSO for their office at the Dayton VA Medical Center in Dayton. A disabled veteran himself, Rollins found his passion was helping other veterans navigate the bureaucracy and paperwork associated with filing a claim with the Veterans Administration and assisting them in receiving whatever benefits they are due. After three years in Dayton, his dream was about to come to fruition.
In early 2019, Eugene “Mac” McKibben announced his retirement from the Clinton County Veterans Service Commission, creating an opening for a full-time VSO in Wilmington. Rollins became aware of the opportunity and interviewed for the position. When asked how he felt when he was asked to fill the upcoming vacancy, Jeff had a one-word response: “Overjoyed.”
Now that he has relocated to Wilmington and is settled into his new office, he has wasted no time getting involved locally. He has transferred his memberships in the VFW to James H. Smithson Post 6710 and the American Legion to Wilmington Veterans Post 49.
Also, Jeff, at the invitation of fellow veteran and Chief Criminal Bailiff for the Clinton County Court of Common Pleas, Kelly Hopkins, has joined the current class of Leadership Clinton and is looking for opportunities in which he can get involved within the community.
Rollins stated that he is most interested in seeing the CCSO expand their detention facility to include an area for juveniles, and the local homeless situation, especially homeless veterans.
Jeff Rollins is the proud father of three daughters, one a senior at Penn State and a senior and a junior in high school.
Sergeant First Class Jeffery A. Rollins, USA, RET. has come home from serving his country, rolled up his sleeves and is ready to go to work serving his community and its residents.