FORT McCOY, Wis. –
What began with a hearty belly laugh has turned into a 12-year, and counting, career in the Army Reserve for one 88th Readiness Division noncommissioned officer.
Sergeant 1st Class Dexter A. Taylor, chief paralegal NCO, 88th RD, joined the Army Reserve in July 2009 after a conversation with a friend went from a laughing matter to something serious.
“I had employment, but I knew I could do other things,” Taylor said, “but no one wanted to give those opportunities. There were other things that I wanted to accomplish as well but I couldn’t get those opportunities.”
After that fateful conversation with his friend, who had served in the military, Taylor decided to try the Army and see what that had to offer for him. That first step was having an honest conversation with a recruiter.
“[My recruiter] asked me ‘why are you trying to join the Army’ and once I told him what that was, he said these are the things that the Army can offer you,” Taylor said. “A lot of those issues that I had were taken care of in pretty short order, just based on me joining the Army.”
Taylor joined as a traditional troop program unit Army Reserve Soldier, intending to drill one weekend a month and conduct two weeks of annual training per year while still working near his North Carolina hometown. However, after graduating basic training and advanced individual training, he soon realized that he wanted something more from the Army.
“I decided that if I’m going to do this, I want to do it. I didn’t feel just coming to drill one weekend a month that I was going to get something out of this. If I’m going to be here, I want to get some skills,” Taylor said. “That was the whole thing because I couldn’t get any opportunities in the civilian side.”
Through that commitment to the Army Taylor has had assignments with the 18th Airborne Corps, U.S. Army Reserve Command, 9th Legal Operations Detachment and now the 88th RD.
“I had no intention of staying in for any extended period of time,” he said. “But, 12 years later, here I am and I have no regrets.”
One of the assignments that Taylor said he is most proud of is his involvement with the annual Paralegal Warrior Training Course at Fort McCoy. He started working on the logistics side of the exercise and now serves as the course manager.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate with the opportunities that have been given to me,” he said.
Taylor said he will continue to serve in the Army until he retires. In that time, he hopes to complete his bachelor’s degree in psychology and then earn a master’s in social work so that he can achieve his ultimate goal of being a licensed clinical social worker.
“That’s another one of my passions, trying to help out less fortunate families is ultimately what I want to do,” he said.
Along with him for this ride with the Army are his wife LaToya and two children, Ariana and Tristan.
“My family is really my heart,” he said. “Even me being here at Fort McCoy is because of my family.”
Where the rest of his Army journey goes, Taylor said he’ll do whatever the Army asks of him.
“At this point, the career goals that I really have have already been exceeded,” he said. “I didn’t expect to be in the Army this long. At this point, I’m doing whatever I can for the Army that has given me the opportunities to be where I am. Wherever the Army needs me to go, this is where I’m at.”