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NEWS | June 9, 2023

Profiles in Professionalism - Master at Arms 1st Class Vanessa Ordoñez

By Mass Communication Specialist First Class (SW/AW/IW) Lawrence Davis, Navy Reserve Region Readiness and Mobilization Command Fort Worth Public Affairs

FORT WORTH, Texas (June 1, 2023) – Master-at-Arms 1st Class Vanessa Ordoñez is the type of person who always has a plan and an unwavering commitment to public service.  She has successfully integrated her military service with her civilian profession to enhance both.
Ordoñez is a Navy Reserve Center (NRC) El Paso Sailor, who also serves as chief of police for the Anthony Police Department (APD) in Anthony, New Mexico.
She joined the Navy in 2001 after graduating from Onate high school in her hometown Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she participated in the Navy JROTC program.
“I wanted to travel the world and have access to the education benefits the Navy offers,” said Ordoñez.
She served the first six years of her Navy career on active duty.
“I started off as an undesignated airman and I was a plane captain for my squadron,” Ordoñez explained.
As a plane captain, Ordoñez was responsible for servicing aircraft and assisting pilots in maneuvering the aircraft on the ground, using hand or light signals.
In 2004, Ordoñez struck into the personnel specialist (PS) rating. Her job was to maintain Sailors’ electronic service records, manage their career information, and assist with personnel transfers, separations and retirements.
This period of Ordoñez's active service enabled her to travel to multiple foreign countries including France, England, and Italy.
“I got an Emerald Shellback certificate for crossing the equator at the prime meridian, and I experienced many different cultures which really enhanced my cultural awareness,” said Ordoñez. 
Ordoñez earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice, using the Navy’s tuition assistance program.

She completed her initial enlistment in 2007 at the rank of petty officer 3rd class. At that time, Ordoñez decided to get out of the Navy because she wanted to apply the degree she’d earned to a civilian profession.
Once discharged, Ordoñez attended and graduated from a police academy in New Mexico.
“The great thing about it is not only was I able to apply the knowledge I had gained in the Navy to my profession as a police officer, but many of the skills, operational experiences and discipline I learned were extremely valuable as well,” said Ordoñez.  
She worked her way up through the police force ranks, and also continued her education. In 2010, Ordoñez earned a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice, and in 2019, the mayor of Anthony, New Mexico appointed Ordoñez as the APD chief of police. 
“It’s a very demanding job but I love it because I really do enjoy helping people,” said Ordoñez. “I’m responsible for leading the police officers of the APD. I make sure all of our training requirements are met. I oversee our operations and the management of our budget, and I ensure our staff has the necessary tools they need to succeed.”
Ordoñez explained that she takes great pride in the fact during her tenure as police chief, the city of Anthony has been ranked one of the top 10 safest cities in all of New Mexico.
“To me, that says we are doing something right in the realm of public safety and protecting the well-being of our citizens,” said Ordoñez.
Still, Ordoñez felt she had more to give. She rejoined the Navy in 2019, this time, as a Master-at-Arms (MA) in the Reserve component.
“I wanted to finish what I started,” she said. “I knew I still had more to offer in service to my country but wasn’t sure what my options were until I spoke to a recruiter. They saw that I had experience in law enforcement, and recommended I join the Reserve Force as an MA.”
Ordoñez was waived from attending MA ‘A’ school and automatically promoted to the next higher pay grade, E-5, because of her experience and qualifications as a civilian police officer.
Since then, Ordoñez has advanced to the rank of first class petty officer (E-6), and she recently returned from an 11-month mobilization aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Trenton (T-EPF-5).
“I was part of the embarked security squadron,” said Ordoñez. “We also helped build community relations in places like Guinea, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, and Rota, Spain.”
Ordoñez is now back in New Mexico leading the police officers of the APD in keeping the city of Anthony safe.

When asked, how she is able to balance her careers as chief of police and a Navy Reserve Sailor, Ordoñez replied, “I want people to know they can accomplish whatever they want. All you have to do is apply yourself and manage your time wisely. I’m very proud to be a part of two organizations committed to the greater good, and I hope I am setting a positive example for my daughter and others around me.”