Col. Arthur L. Jenkins Jr., director of Military and Veteran’s Affairs for Delaware County, will serve as the grand marshal for this year’s annual Veteran’s Day Parade in Media on Friday, Nov. 10.
Jenkins, who officially retires from the Army this month after nearly 40 years, started his new job with Delaware County in August.
Jenkins grew up in West Philadelphia and went to Temple University for a year.
“I thought I was lacking in discipline,” he said. He decided to join the Army Reserve. “I told my mother she was a great motivator and an inspiration to me, and she was a tad bit on the disappointed side after my freshman year at Temple. So, I said, ‘Well, you know, mom, I’ll tell you what; I’m going to get that discipline.’”
Jenkins thought he would do six years in the Reserves but ended up on active duty and made a career in the Army. He graduated from the Pennsylvania State Officer Candidate School (OCS) program and was commissioned as an officer in the Medical Service Corps. He also graduated from the United States Army War College as a Carlisle Scholar.
His most recent assignment was serving as the Taskforce Medical Commander for Operation Allies Welcome, and he is the former commander of the Wounded Warrior Company.
“When I branched out of Officer Candidate School, I was with the Medical Service Corps,” he said. “I have a background in medical genetics.”
“During my time as a captain, I functioned more operationally because that’s when I was commander of the largest medical holdover company, the largest Wounded Warrior medical unit in the Department of Defense,” he said. “Operationally speaking, from that point on, I functioned in various command positions as a lieutenant colonel and a colonel.”
“I was really fortunate because I had to be selected for command at each level,” said Jenkins. The Wounded Warrior Company helped soldiers with “what they call combat and operational stress control. I had a staff of some of our foremost behavioral health experts, psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, occupational therapists, and psychiatric techs. And we attempted to lessen the effects of trauma that service members saw, not just on the battlefield but in their personal lives, as well.”
“I’d say it’s a very tough command and certainly takes nerves of steel,” he said. “But you truly learn a lot about the folks you’re attempting to care for, as well as about yourself,” he said. “So that was very challenging and fulfilling.”
Then, he was mobilized as the task force medical commander with Operation Allies Welcome Home. He did joint training with Canadians and served in every state but Alaska and Hawaii. However, his family stayed in Delaware County his entire career.
“I figured either way, it’s going to be a sacrifice,” he said. But keeping the family here instead of moving them was “better for the kids’ education,” he said. He would return “as many weekends as possible.”
Jenkins and his wife, Nicole, who live in Upper Darby, are the parents of four children. The oldest, Lance, is a critical care nurse in New York, followed by Chandler, an IT specialist in West Chester; Cameron, a freshman at Temple; and Tabitha, a middle school student.
When not working, Jenkins enjoys running, watching documentaries, and spending time with his family.
The county Veterans Affairs Department helps Delco veterans connect with various services like health and financial benefits, Jenkins said. There are about 35,000 veterans living in the county.
The Veterans Day parade will begin at 1 a.m. outside Media Theatre (104 E. State St., Media, Pa.) and proceed down State Street to the County Courthouse, where a ceremony will be held.