Story and Photos by Erin Schreyer.
** For security reasons, DDG is using the alias, “Jed” for this story. While all details are factually correct, we are committed to protect the identity of our local hero for his own safety, as well as that of his loved ones.**
“I feel awesome. Couldn’t feel better. I’m more committed now than ever.” These words were spoken without an ounce of hesitation and with tremendous passion when Jed expressed how he was feeling about going to Ukraine in the midst of Russian aggression. The former Dallas Police Department (DPD) officer crossed the Poland-Ukraine border just days ago to join the effort to preserve the country’s freedom. He joined fellow DPD alums and thousands of other Americans, who are feeling called to help with this critical situation.
“I firmly believe that every 50-60 years, the world gets attacked by a madman who’s dead-set on destroying the world. If you don’t stop people like that, you end up with a genocide or a world war, and I don’t want my kids or your kids or anyone else’s kids to have to deal with that. So, now’s the time to step up, before it spills over into other countries – NATO countries – and then we’re all involved,” Jed explained further.
Currently a practicing attorney following his years with DPD, Jed clearly values justice, law and order. Not an attention-seeker or spotlight-lover, he is hesitant to be hailed as a hero. He does, however, prioritize service to others and spurring others on to do good.
“I’m lucky enough to have some tactical training in my past. Not military training, but extremely good police training with military equipment, rifles and tactics. It’s given me enough of a base to be able to go over there and train with their foreign legion and probably be a pretty effective asset fairly quickly,” he reassuringly spoke. “Very few people have the time and training that I do, but there are other ways people can help. There are non-combat support roles, like cooking, driving trucks and helping with refugees. If you want to go, Ukraine will find a place for you. They have the need. And if you can’t go, then I highly suggest donating to one of the many reputable humanitarian funds that have been set up.”
Not surprisingly, Jed wanted to clarify the legality of his participation in the military effort. “The Ukrainian government has set up a voluntary foreign legion. Not all foreign legions are set up like that,” he explained. “This is not going to be a paid position. It’s completely voluntary, which is what makes it legal. There are thousand of Americans there already, and there are more coming every day. I expect that number to rise dramatically in the near future.”
His courage and sense of protection is inspiring, but as with all those in military service, there are loved ones at home whose support and bravery should not go unnoticed. Communication with them could be challenging while on the ground. Jed wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but he planned for several scenarios while noting that Russians are experts in jamming and tracking cell phones and hacking into computers. He revealed that while coordinating his trip with people from around the world, Russian bots were a constant threat, causing delays and crashing computer systems, including his own for hours. That said, he committed to do his best to remain safely connected, keeping his people updated and comforted by hearing his voice.
Calmly and confidently, Jed assured, “I have no doubt I’ll be coming home and coming home un-injured, hopefully sooner, versus later.” His boldness comes from what he believes is a true calling to join this effort. He is highly motivated by faith and family, and the piles of gear and supplies being organized throughout his home were evidence that he wasn’t going to be stopped. He is on mission to preserve lives, and ensure world safety, as much as he can impact that outcome.
While in Poland earlier this week, Jed was connecting with and making new friends of Ukrainian refugee families. He stopped to comfort some children whose father remained in their home country to fight. Having taken the time the learn some language basics, Jed, in the most tender and paternal manner, promised them in their native language that he would be joining their father to fight…and win. “Stay strong,” he encouraged.
Now on Ukrainian soil and training for combat, Jed expects to remain in Ukraine “until the job is done,” meaning that he is committed to stay as long as he can add value to the cause. He remains steadfast in the mission, and his selfless purpose drives his confidence. His closing remark of the interview was a request to engage fellow Americans. “Please pray for the Ukrainian people and their defenders. They and we need it now, more than ever.”
** Since the writing of this story, Jed has been forced to evacuate to Poland. Russian airstrikes aimed directly at the Ukrainian training camp in Lviv have killed 35 and injured many more. Jed was among the injured while running to take cover amidst the air-raid warning sirens. Now dealing with a sprained ankle and knee, he is still committed to serve in any capacity his physical abilities will allow.**