By Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Hamilton (108th Trng. Cmd.)September 12, 2014
FORT JACKSON, S.C. - There are those who strive to just get by in life, and then there are people like Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Ellis.
Ellis, a drill sergeant with 1/320th Basic Combat Training Battalion, 98th Training Division (IET), United States Army Reserve, is not only a Soldier, he's a law enforcement officer and award-winning singer/songwriter, and yes, he excels in every endeavor.
Currently augmenting B Company, 360th Infantry (BCT) for his extended combat training, Ellis, a 16-year veteran of the United States Army Reserve and an ammunition specialist, became a drill sergeant with the 98th Training Division in April 2013 and says he was looking for a change in his Army career.
"I was looking for something different from ammunition, and a drill sergeant recruiter contacted me. I said, 'What the hell, sounds like fun,' and here I am!"
Ellis gladly accepted the challenge of being a drill sergeant and immediately excelled in his new career path by graduating top of his class from the United States Army Drill Sergeant School.
"As a drill sergeant, we put in a lot of hours and there are some really long days. But I like leading troops, and I really enjoy the teaching aspect of the job. It's fun," said Ellis.
But Ellis doesn't stop there with his career in public service. After graduating as a drill sergeant, he immediately landed a job as a law enforcement officer with the South Charleston (West Virginia) Police Department in August 2013.
Ellis says, "I don't like being a law enforcement officer, I love it!"
He likes it so much that he was selected as honor graduate from his 16-week training at the West Virginia State Police Academy.
"The police academy recognized that I had just graduated from the Drill Sergeant School. By the end of the second day, they had me out marching my fellow cadets and calling cadence."
"The military definitely paid out in this [law enforcement] career. Out on the job, you have an extra sense of confidence and professionalism. Some people get into stressful situations and don't have that military training to fall back on. They don't know how to deal with people and struggle at times. The Army has definitely served me well there," said Ellis.
And in addition to all this, Ellis also continues to pursue his passion as a talented singer/songwriter.
Ellis, who has seemingly mastered the guitar as well as harmonica, performs at venues mainly on the East Coast and has five albums to his credit; all with self composed original music and his latest record, "Learning How to Live," was released last September.
"My music career kind of ebbs and flows. I'm always writing, and I try to perform at least locally."
Ellis said, "We have a swing-shift at the police department, so we work for three weeks straight and then get seven days off every month. Usually by the end of the second day off, my wife is ready to run me out of the house, so I try to schedule some short tours."
In addition to winning several "battle of the bands" contests, Ellis was also a co-winner for the NewSong "Performing Song Writer" contest sponsored by Mountain Stage in 2008. He says one of his most memorable performances came at his police academy graduation.
"I was chosen to sing the national anthem there. Most nerve-racking performance ever!"
Ellis, who stays busy managing all his careers, married his wife, Michelle, four months after his last deployment to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn in 2010. He has two children, a son and a daughter, with his daughter being born just five weeks prior to his current 29-day ECT.
"My wife is a real trooper. She's great at holding the fort down when I'm gone. It's definitely not easy, but we talk every day."
"I will say that I thought being deployed for a year as single man was a breeze. Now, just being away from the family for a month as a married guy with kids is tough!"
With everything he has on his plate, Ellis says he has no plans on giving up his military career and even has plans to become a warrant officer.
"I got out of the Army for one year in 2007, and I missed it. It gets into your blood, and anyone who puts some time in the military and gets out would be lying if they said they didn't miss it."
"The plan has always been to do at least 20 years and maybe more if I can. No one puts in 16 years in the Army and just gives up," added Ellis.