Ohio National Guard News

Celebrating Father's Day

Family's support makes the difference
in military dad's multiple deployments

Story by Stephanie Beougher, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

The Zentz Family, Jordon (from left), Mikayla, Jeff, April and Jaaron, stand for a photo about four years ago. Sgt. Maj. Zentz has deployed six times in the last 10 years, and his sons were deployed at the same time he was in 2017. (Courtesy photos)

ABOVE: Three members of the Zentz Family were deployed with their Ohio Army National Guard units at the same time, and had a chance to spend some time together in September 2017. Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Zentz (center), who has deployed six times in the last 10 years, is pictured with his sons Spc. Jordon Zentz (left) and Sgt. Jaaron Zentz.

RIGHT: Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Zentz takes a selfie with his wife April during a trip to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. Zentz credits April for the support she’s given him during six mobilizations as the reason he’s been able to focus on taking care of his military business.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Six times in the last 10 years, Sgt. Maj. Jeff Zentz has deployed with his Ohio Army National Guard units. Zentz’s most recent deployment ended just a few months ago when the 371st Sustainment Brigade, headquartered in Springfield, Ohio, returned from a nearly yearlong deployment in support of operations in Southwest Asia.

With that many deployments on his service record and a wife and three children, Zentz knows firsthand the challenges a Soldier faces when away from his or her Family for an extended period.

“Staying connected to my wife and children is one of the hardest parts of being deployed, especially as often as I have been over the last 10 years. Being gone for nine to 12 months is not like being gone for a drill weekend or a two- to three-week annual training,” he said.

He credits his wife April for the support she’s given him during the six mobilizations and “holding down the fort back home” in order for him to be able to focus on taking care of his military business.

“During every deployment, I handled most of the issues at the home level. Even though things may have been difficult, I always made sure I did not complain to Jeff. I knew he had a lot of important responsibilities where he was, and I didn’t want to draw his attention away from those,” she said. “We have been married for 26 years now, and working together with my husband and children throughout all of the deployments has made us a very close Family. I wouldn’t change anything.”

There are also rewards of being deployed, which Zentz said include the sense of camaraderie with fellow Soldiers and the satisfaction of defending the nation and the Constitution.

He has also had the unique situation of serving with both of his sons during two different deployments: in 2012 with Spc. Jordon Zentz in Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment, and last year with Sgt. Jaaron Zentz with the 371st.
“When deployed with one of my sons, it is nice to have a Family member close,” he said. “The negative side is others tend to assume that I insert myself into their business, which I do not. They may be my sons, but they are not my Soldiers. There is a very distinct difference.”

Jordon called the experience of being deployed with his dad “interesting,” and Jaaron commented it was “nice, as I was able to spend time with him when we had free time.” During the most recent deployment, all three were able to get together for a brief visit.

The military experience has also helped the Zentz Family pay for college tuition, including daughter Mikayla who recently graduated from Michigan State University.

Jeff Zentz is currently on active duty at Fort Knox, Kentucky, with his last day in uniform slated for Nov. 30, 2019. With the support of his Family, he has been able to support the Ohio National Guard’s federal mission to defend the homeland and will be able to retire after a successful career as a Citizen-Soldier.

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