Jack Keen, a retired U.S. Army Major, dedicated 24 years of his life to protecting his country. These days, he says, his time and devotion are poured into making his own community better.
Now a Paradis resident, Keen is originally from Arkansas. He joined the military when he was only 17 years old.
“I grew up in a very poor portion of the country, and it was an opportunity to be able to not only have employment but at the same time be able to grow and advance in the long term,” he said of enlisting in the Army. “It took me from a barely high graduate to someone who was able to receive two master’s degrees.”
Keen said he was able to take college classes here and there while in active duty through correspondence and night classes. After completing his bachelor’s degree, he enrolled in officer candidate school and become a commissioned officer before going on to earn his two master’s degrees.
Keen’s five deployments included stretches in Iraq, Israel and Jordan. He retired in 2004 as a Corps of Engineer officer and moved to Louisiana to be a part of the chemical industry.
Nearly five years into that journey, Keen said he was looking for something new.
“The biggest thing about retirement is the fact that all of us as veterans served our country, and then that experience ends and you have all of these feelings of disenfranchisement,” he said. “Veterans have a need for a sense of mission accomplishment that many civilians don’t understand. Understanding that sense of mission accomplishment is paramount to any veteran.”
In researching what his next career move would be, Keen said he found the JDog line of franchises.
With over 200 franchises all owned and primarily operated by veterans, Keen said the company felt like a good fit.
“Understanding construction and demolition is second nature to me,” Keen said of why the company was such a good fit for his military background. “The fact that I’m able to a part of a system that helps to minimize the unemployment rate issue for veterans and to be able to make a better outlook for veterans is important to me.”
Keen opened JDog Junk Removal & Hauling New Orleans in 2019. The company specializes in the home and commercial service industry, providing debris removal and hauling in addition to floor, upholstery and carpet cleaning.
The Paradis-based location employs seven people, four of which are veterans. The other three employees are either a spouse or a child of a veteran.
Keen is a 100% disabled veteran, something he has in common with two of his employees. He said the business is a built-in physical and psychological support system for him and others.
“We’ve served our country and we had that greater purpose at one point and eventually that ends,” he said. “We’re still looking for a way to be a part of the better of society and the best way to do that is through employment. You give a veteran a task, timeline and resources and we can accomplish anything.”
Keen said the business has given him a renewed sense of purpose.
“As veterans, we say that we served our country and now we want to serve our community and be a part of our community and make it better – be it through increases in the property value of a home, by cleaning things out and just being a part of the community,” he said.
Keen, who is married and has two children, said it’s important for veterans to feel supported long after their active duty days are over.
“The majority of Americans want to be patriotic and support our active duty military, but that continues after … so it’s important for those people to support veteran-owned businesses and our veterans looking for employment,” he said.
For more information on Keen’s business, visit www.jdogjunkremoval.com.