CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. -- Caroline County Deputy Doug Jenks lives to serve others.
“It is priceless. You can’t put a price on it,” says Doug. ”I enjoy it. Right from the get-go it is family.”
The law enforcement officer, Navy, and National Guard veteran has been dedicating his professional life to assisting friends and strangers alike for nearly 40 years.
The deputy’s current assignment is by far the most satisfying.
“I just started last October. But it feels like I’ve been here a lifetime with the way people treat me,” Doug said.
Doug shares advice with newly-minted drivers about the dangers on the road the day they receive a license.
“The children come in and get their license issued by the Judge,” Deputy Jenks said.
Doug’s talks always come tinged with sadness.
“I give that talk to the kids and I tell them that story about my son making a bad decision,” Doug said.
The 58-year-old from Ashland is motivated daily by the one person he can’t help.
On April 25, 2020, Doug and Karen Jenks’ life changed forever. It was the day they lost Logan.
Their middle son was killed in a single-vehicle wreck in King William County.
“They all think it isn’t going to happen to them until it does,” Karen Jenks said.
Logan was a passenger in a truck. Logan and the driver had been drinking. Both young men perished. Logan Jenks was just 20 years old.
“When I feel like when I need to go see my son this is where I come. There is where I come because it is all I have,” says Karen.
“I think he hears my conversation. Sometimes I get an answer. Sometimes I don’t,” says Doug.
The last four years have not been kind to this father of five. Since 2019, he’s lost a son, a grandson, his sister to COVID-19, his step-father to pancreatic cancer, and Doug was diagnosed with Bells Palsy - a neurological disorder causing paralysis in the face.
In June, Deputy Jenks was dealt another hammer blow.
“You never expect it but the look on her face told us immediately it was not good,” Karen said.
Doctors diagnosed Doug with pancreatic cancer which has now spread to his liver.
“We’re just trying to be optimistic and hoping for a miracle,” Karen said.
“It is Stage 4. Inoperable. (Doctors) gave me a 50/50 chance to get past a year,” Doug said. The odds are seemingly insurmountable, but Doug is not bowing out of this fight.
“I cherish life. I cherish my family,” Doug said.
The deputy is undergoing chemo and 11 medications which is taking its toll physically and financially.
Colleague and fellow cancer survivor Sgt. Miles Turner marvels at Doug’s will to push on in the face of so much adversity.
“The man has been through a lot and he doesn’t have a negative bone in his body,” Turner said. “He has been through more in the last four years than most people will go through in a lifetime.”
Despite his latest blow, retreating is not in Doug’s future.
”It is the drive that keeps me coming back,” says Deputy Jenks. “I give that talk to the kids and I tell them that story about my son making a bad decision.”
The deputy is still working with teen drivers in between chemo treatments.
“I can ask ‘Why me?’ But if I want to get better I can’t dwell on it,” Doug said.
This father doesn’t want another mom or dad to endure what he and his wife do every day.
“It was devastating,” Doug said. “I’m still not over it yet. I think about him every day.”
Deputy Doug Jenks - a man who always puts others first while serving and protecting the legacy of his late son as long as he can.
”Yeah. Yeah. I have to. There is something inside of me that says you have to go and get that talk.”
You can help Doug and his family by donating to Fund the First. 100% of your donation will go directly to Deputy Jenks.
A benefit hockey game to raise money for Deputy Jenks will take place on Saturday, September 9. The Prince George Patriots and Carolina Hurricanes Warriors will play at 5:30 p.m. at the Chilled Ponds in Yorktown. The game is free but donations for Doug are strongly encouraged.