SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Late this summer our cameras were there for the change of command at Shreveport’s Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).
After nearly six months on the job, we caught up with the new commander to see how he's adjusting to his new role, helping young recruits prepare for a life of service.
“These are people‘s kids, their friends, brothers and sisters, and now I’m saying okay, you’re ready to go. We’re going to ship you off to training and you’re going to become a soldier, sailor, Marine and airmen, and that’s kind of a big deal,” expressed Major Benjamin Walker.
18 years ago, Major Benjamin Walker swore to uphold the same oath he now administers to young recruits. A bittersweet circle in his military career.
“I do remember swearing in, but I didn’t remember the words,” recalled Major Walker, " It had been a long day, I was proud of what I was doing, but now that I’m responsible for swearing people in it means a lot. I do think about that every day. Especially the first time you know, I was like wow, this is really an honor for me to be able to do that."
Major Walker enlisted in the Army and started as a military policeman.
“I spent about 2 to 2 1/2 years doing that and then I commissioned and became a field artillery officer. I deployed a couple times to Iraq and then I changed over and became a human resources officer.”
Which landed him here, as the commander of the Shreveport MEPS.
“We are the ‘front door’ in qualifying, making sure you’re qualified for status and ready to ship out the door to go serve your country.”
Giving the final approval for eager men and women to serve like so many before them.
“I usually talk to them for about five minutes before I do it (administer the oath) or so, and I try to emphasize that one, not everyone is willing to do what they’re willing to do,” said Walker, “I try to emphasize the fact that we are all part of one team. It doesn’t matter if you’re Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard we’re all part of one team.”
Major Walker and his staff work to ensure when recruits leave the ceremony room they’re ready for a life changing adventure.
“Every time I go in there, there is a sense of responsibility. I’m the last guy that says OK this is it, you’re ready to go.”
Beyond recruits, Shreveport MEPS is responsible for helping to bridge the gap between military and civilian life.
“A lot of civilians don’t understand with the military does an a lot of the military has a hard time relating back to civilians,” Walker explained, “So if we can do that, with partnerships with the schools and getting involved in community events which is what we’ve been getting into a little more the last few months, it’s really the goal. We’re part of the community let’s get involved in the community.”
Leading a life of service both near and far.