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A journey of gratitude: Father-son duo travels 11,700 miles to honor first responders, veterans

A retired LEO and his son travel across the nation delivering heartfelt “Thank You from America” plaques to those who serve and protect


Jeff Turney (left) pictured thanking an LEO for his service.

Photo/Jeff Turney

By Jeff Turney, Ph.D.

During my 20-year career with the Glendale Police Department, I saved $125 each payday and purchased a motorcoach with the intent to travel when I retired. In 2021, after spending 41 years in law enforcement, both in the military and the public sector, I decided to retire, but continued to work with nonprofit organizations that helped veterans and first responders throughout Arizona.


Photo/Jeff Turney

In 2022, my son was in his second year of college when he asked me if people were really against law enforcement like he saw on the news. I explained to him that the vast majority of interactions officers have with the general public are positive. I told him I had never been treated poorly; however, I always treated people respectfully, and it was reciprocated. I tried to tell him that our country is filled with wonderful people who support law enforcement, but there are also bad people in the world who take advantage of others. Those are the individuals who usually show disrespect towards law enforcement officers.


Photo/Jeff Turney

I had recently started my own nonprofit, Service B4 Self, to help veterans and first responders, along with elderly and disabled individuals in crisis. I suggested to my son that we take a trip in the motorcoach, meet veterans and first responders across the country, and ask them how they were doing. This was the beginning of our first national tour.

The original plan was to speak with first responders and veterans as we traveled across the country and let them tell their stories. Unfortunately, as we started our trip, there was a mass school shooting in Texas, which politically charged any comments first responders might provide. First responders were willing to talk to me; however, they didn’t want to violate any departmental policies by giving any official interviews. We decided to change the direction of the tour and began speaking to Americans across the country, asking them what they thought of our veterans and first responders.

We spoke to hundreds of people as we traveled 6,300 miles across the country. The final question I asked everyone was if we had first responders or veterans in front of us, what would they want to tell them? Everyone throughout the country said they would thank our first responders for what they do every day to protect our communities and thank our veterans for protecting our nation and keeping us free. I promised everyone I would let our veterans and first responders know how they felt.

In 2023, I kept my promise and had “Thank You from America” plaques made for our nation’s heroes. My son and I traveled another 5,400 miles, dropping the plaques off at first responder and veteran organizations across the country. Once again, we met amazing people throughout our nation and made sure they all knew that America appreciated the sacrifices they made for their communities and our country.


Photo/Jeff Turney

During both tours, my son was able to see firsthand that America values our first responders and veterans. During our travels, we met individuals from all walks of life. We were followed into rest stops and thanked by complete strangers for what we were doing. Passengers would hang out the windows of their vehicles, giving us thumbs up and salutes as they drove by us on the highways. Truckers would blow their horns as they passed, and people would approach us at gas stations and overnight stops to take pictures with the motorcoach.


Photo/Jeff Turney

The positive reactions shown throughout the country let my son and me know that America continues to be strong and national patriotism is alive and well. A third tour is currently being planned throughout Arizona, and we will be promoting the “Service B4 Self” mission to support veterans and first responders, along with our elderly and disabled individuals who find themselves in crisis.

About the author

Dr. Jeff Turney’s 41-year law enforcement career began after he entered the United States Air Force. While with the Air Force, he held many assignments from patrol officer to law enforcement superintendent, managing law enforcement operations. His selection to attend the FBI National Academy (193rd session) preceded his final assignment with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). There, he assumed an expert investigator’s role and assisted in protecting our nation’s space assets. Upon completing his military requirements, he obtained a sworn officer’s position with the Glendale, Arizona police department. He retired as a patrol supervisor, and his background within the department included five years as a domestic violence detective. He currently is the founder of Service B4 Self, a nonprofit organization that supports veterans and first responders, as well as elderly and disabled individuals in crisis. Jeff’s educational background includes a PhD in Public Safety, specializing in Leadership; a Master’s degree in Public Administration; a second Master’s in Business & Organizational Security Management; and a Bachelor’s degree in Workforce Education & Development.