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On 10 December 2019, Governor Andy Beshear appointed Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Keith L. Jackson as the sixth Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veteran Affairs.
As the chief executive officer of the Department, Commissioner Jackson is the Governor’s representative and advisor on all veterans-related matters, and is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Department’s Benefits Branch, four Veteran Nursing Homes, five State Veteran Cemeteries, Employment Services Program, Homeless Veterans Program, and Women Veterans Program.
Commissioner Jackson earned his Bachelor of Arts in Communications and received his commission from the University of Kentucky in 1987. During his 27-year career in the U.S. Army Reserves, he served in numerous capacities ranging from platoon leader up to Battalion Command. Commissioner Jackson is a graduate of the Armor Officer Basic and Advanced Courses at Ft Knox, KY; Command and General Staff College, Ft Leavenworth, KS; and the Multifunctional Logistics Course at Ft Lee, VA. He served in Iraq in 2006 as the Operations Officer of the 352nd Combat Service Battalion, which conducted combat logistic patrols. His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and Combat Action Badge. In 2008, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and selected as Battalion Commander of the 373rd Quartermaster Battalion.
In addition to his military service, Jackson began his municipal and public service career on 28 January 1991 with the Lexington Fire Department. His first assignment was as a Firefighter with Engine Company 9. In 1993, he was certified as an Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic and assigned to Emergency Care 6. Commissioner Jackson was promoted to Lieutenant in 2000, Captain in 2002, and Major in 2010 where he became the Hazardous Material Team leader for the Department. In 2011, he was appointed Assistant Chief of Administration, and then Interim Chief that same year. In June 2012, Chief Jackson made history by becoming the first African American appointed Chief of the Lexington Division of Fire and Emergency Services. In this capacity, Chief Jackson managed a 56 million dollar budget, 540 Firefighters, and 23 stations.
He is the father of two daughters, Taylor L. Jackson, a graduate of Transylvania University, and Karrington I. Jackson, a student athlete at Transylvania.