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WATER VALLEY – A Water Valley attorney has enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve 14 years after his active duty service ended in Japan as a Navy Corpsman. Ryan Walker took the oath of enlistment on Thursday in his upstairs law office at the Hendricks Building with friends Barron and Elizabeth Caulfield and Clay Ashford as witnesses.
“I have always wanted to serve again in a reserve capacity,” Walker said. “I enjoyed my time and I loved wearing a uniform. I want to contribute, to be part of a team again,” the attorney explained.
Walker’s oath followed a tedious, six-month process as he navigated the process to find a position that matched his work experience and educational background. During his earlier five-year enlistment, Walker attended the field medical service school at Camp Pendleton and was assigned to the 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa. Since he got out in 2007, he has earned two bachelor’s degrees and a law degree. Walker will serve in the Navy Reserve as a legalman, the Navy’s version of paralegals.
“Was I okay with that, being an attorney? Yes I was. I have found out there are a lot of attorneys who are legalman,” Walker said.
“His situation was very different from anything I had ever done,” Petty Officer Michelle Ayers explained about assisting Walker with the six-month process. Ayers works as a recruiter for the prior service division for NTAG New Orleans and specializes in helping prior enlisted sailors join the Navy Reserve. Her challenge was to find a position that would work for Walker to come back to the Navy in a job related to his occupation.
“She found a program called DPEP (Direct Procurement Enlistment Program). It is for prior enlisted who get out of the Navy and receive education and/or vocational experience,” Walker added about the commitment from his recruiter that he credits for making his dream a reality.
“His situation was unusual, but not just because of the fact that he has been out since 2007. It was more unusual because of all the qualifying and recommendations he had to go through to get into the particular field he wanted. It was a just a very rare fit, and even a more rare approval once everything was said and done,” Ayers explained. “In my opinion he was chosen because of the stellar sailor he was in the past, the expert he has become in his (legal) field since then, and the dignity and confidence he showed the community when questioned why he wanted to do this for the Navy and his country.”
Walker is also appreciative of the support from his wife, Addy Walker.
“That is where I met Addy, overseas in Japan. She thinks this is a great accomplishment,” Walker explained.
Walker will continue to operate his solo law practice in Water Valley. His Navy commitment will include weekend service each month as well as a two-week stint each year and potential short periods of active duty.
“I have over five years in the Navy, to get a pension you have to do 20. To me 15 years will be easy,” Walker explained about the years ahead serving his country.