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Attorney called to serve

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As an attorney who was being deployed by the U.S. Navy Reserve to serve his country, there was no question that he would go. The support received from his firm for the year he was away made the experience manageable.

U.S. Navy Reserve Commander Rodney Retzner, a partner and chair of Krieg DeVault’s estate planning and administration practice group, has been in the U.S. Navy Reserve since the late 1990s. But he’s been with the U.S. Navy since he graduated from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 1990 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

In his last year at Rose-Hulman, he saw the Navy booth at a career fair and decided to enlist. While an active member of the Navy, he received his Master of Science in nuclear power, helped run a nuclear power plant in Charleston, S.C., and spent time on the USS Alabama – the submarine featured in the movie “Crimson Tide.”
 

IL_Navy03-15col U.S. Navy Reserve Commander Rodney Retzner, an attorney at Krieg DeVault in Carmel, served at U.S. Central Command in Florida for one year. He joined the Navy in 1990. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Jeffrey C. McDermott, Retzner’s friend and the executive partner to the firm’s Hamilton County offices, said he once saw Retzner’s very brief cameo when he caught a scene that was shot on the submarine while Retzner was serving there.

In 1995, Retzner went to University of Cincinnati College of Law and received his Juris Doctor in 1998. He’s worked for Krieg DeVault since that time. Until recently, his U.S. Navy and legal experience rarely, if ever, intersected. But in the last few years, he has had the opportunity to call on his experience with nuclear power as part of the firm’s alternative energy industry group.

When he told the management team that he may be mobilized in 2009, there was no question that they’d support him. Retzner said he had the option to bow out of the Navy if he didn’t want to be mobilized, but because he had never received that call before and had spent all those years as a reservist, there was no question in his mind that, if needed, he would go.

The firm had not experienced the deployment of a partner, McDermott said, at least not in recent history. They wanted to make it work for Retzner.

McDermott said the firm also considered Retzner’s wife, Denise, and their four sons, now ages 18, 10, 8, and 6, while Retzner was actively serving. The firm worked with Retzner on financial support for his family and his client relationships for the year he’d be away.

Retzner also said that he realized his job, no matter where he was deployed, would be much easier than what his wife, who would stay behind and need to run a house with four kids, would be faced with handling.

He returned to his practice in mid-January and the transition has been seamless. “Some of his clients may not have realized he was gone for a year,” McDermott said.

While on active military duty, Retzner kept in contact with clients and remained involved in their projects as much as he could, he said, as long as the work didn’t interfere with his military service. He was also able to visit his family at least once a month and would sometimes meet with clients while in the Indianapolis area.

The deployment

Retzner received orders in October 2009 that he would serve for one year starting in January 2010 at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., working with the U.S. Central Command, a joint effort by all branches of the military to cover the area of the world between the European Command and Pacific Command. His role was to work in the Coalition Coordination Center to provide support for other countries involved in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He left home for active duty Jan. 8, 2010, and returned to his practice full time Jan. 10, 2011.

At one point, Retzner was told he might be sent to Iraq. The closest he got to the Middle East was a trip to Germany for a Central Command meeting in August 2010 that involved coalition forces from about 60 different countries.

His 2010 deployment also involved a rare intersection of his legal and military backgrounds. His first assignment was a desk officer’s role, focusing on five countries, and as the desk lead of the Maritime Operations Desk.

Less than a month after he started, he was promoted to oversee the operations side of the Coalition Coordination Center as deputy chief of operations. In that role, he was only a few steps under General David H. Petraeus, then later under General James Mattis.

There he used his skills of negotiation and contract writing, including memorandums of understanding between the U.S. and the countries involved with the coalition forces.

The efforts of Retzner and a team of officers produced new forces for Afghanistan from more than 10 partner nations, more than 4,000 coalition personnel who would support operations “Enduring Freedom,” “Iraqi Freedom,” and “International Security Assistance Force.” The team of officers also handled logistics and support for more than 50,000 coalition personnel already in Afghanistan.

At the end of his service, both Retzner and his wife received awards for their efforts. Retzner received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and his wife received the Military Spouse Award from Army Major General Steven Hashem, a two-star general Retzner worked for during his deployment.

The certificate that was awarded with the medal to his wife, Retzner wrote, says it all: “The Spouse does not wear a uniform yet they serve their country. They do not acquire nor wear ribbons showing where they have been yet they go. They did not ask for the duty they perform yet they unwaveringly serve to their best ability. … The [medal] signifies the lonely nights you have spent and that you have kept the home fires burning … the unwavering devotion you have shown for your spouse and their service to their country. This Medal is gratefully given to those that do not ask, those that stay on the home front so that their spouse can serve for they also proudly serve their country.”

Retzner also reflected on a few historical events that occurred while he was on duty.

He witnessed Air Force cargo jets that took supplies to Haiti following the January 2010 earthquake; from his office window, he saw the U.S. president disembark from Air Force One when he visited; he was there when Central Command provided support to Poland after a number of that country’s high-ranking officials, including the president, died in an airplane accident; and he helped support people affected by flooding in Pakistan.

“Of course, my individual role there was minimal given the 3,000 other members on that staff but the contributions of U.S. Central Command, taken as a whole, had and continue to have significant, real world implications. It was truly a remarkable experience to be part of it,” he wrote.•

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  1. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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