FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Jeffrey Gassaway, Fort Bragg Directorate of Emergency Services patrol branch assistant chief of police has known the military his entire life.
His grandfather participated in artillery training here at Fort Bragg before going to fight in World War II and both of his parents served in the armed forces.
“I came from a military Family but when I got out of high school I didn’t know if that’s what I wanted to do,” explained Gassaway. “So, I went to college first and was looking at civilian law enforcement. Ultimately though, I decided to join the Army.”
Gassaway served in the Army for 22 years and retired out of Fort Bragg in 2016. He spent roughly 14 to 15 of his 22 years serving here.
“The brotherhood of Fort Bragg and the stereotype of the paratrooper really set a tone for me during my military career that I liked,” said Gassaway proudly. “When we walked into a deployment or anything, there was the respect of here comes the paratroopers.”
And for Gassaway, a big part of his military career was also being a leader who took personal responsibility seriously. This meant making sure equipment was maintained and in working order, sharing information, and making sure his Soldiers had everything they needed to be ready for the mission.
“Every deployment we went into, I was probably the strictest platoon sergeant, but my job was to make sure my Soldiers all came home,” explained Gassaway. “These parents allowed their kids to join and trusted that the leaders would make good decisions, take care of them, and bring all of them home. And that’s what I did. Every deployment, all my Soldiers came home.”
When asked about what advice he has for those considering joining, he recommended finding a job that you’re interested in and then giving your best at that job.
“Enjoy your time in the Army because you get to travel and go places that aren’t on any traveling lists,” Gassaway continued. “You’re going to get to do what most people never get the chance to do and that’s serve this Nation.”
Soon after retiring, Gassaway accepted his current position and has been a proud member of the DES and garrison team for the past six years.
“Fort Bragg has been my home for a long time,” explained Gassaway. “When I retired, I really wanted to continue to serve on the civilian side. Even though my military time was done, I wanted to continue being able to serve Soldiers.”
Gassaway’s favorite part of the job is reflective of the same passion he had while in the service – he enjoys the opportunities to teach, mentor, coach, and share his experiences with members of the military police.
“I always want my law enforcement officers to know how important it is to put the concerns of the community above their own and understand they are a trusted agent of the community for protection,” said Gassaway. “For us as MPs, we are looked at as the standard-bearers, for both on and off duty conduct. So be the best and give 110% to everything that you do.”
Part of giving 110% means dealing with difficult situations, such as suicide attempts, and learning how to deescalate the situation.
“We get a lot of training on how to deescalate situations including crisis intervention training, which teaches us how to interact with people with post-traumatic-stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and other emotionally charged situations,” explained Gassaway. “Sometimes all people need is someone to talk to and we get to be that support.”
For Gassaway, the choice to stay at Fort Bragg was an easy one. He enjoys the fast-moving pace, the missions and the complexity that comes with covering all the different areas that make up Fort Bragg.
“I loved being at Fort Bragg and didn’t want to leave,” smiled Gassaway. “Still to this day, I don’t want to leave it. And I will continue to serve here for as long as they let me.”