Veteran presence

February 19, 2020


By Matthew Dewald

The idea of sailors on shore leave sometimes conjures thoughts of misbehavior, but it was Meredith Adkins’ dealings with actual misbehaving sailors that got her thinking that her next act after military service might be in the law. After a stint as assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, in November, the Navy veteran ran unopposed for commonwealth’s attorney in King and Queen County, Virginia, where she grew up.

“I always tell people that when I really knew I wanted to be a prosecutor was when I was in the Navy,” said Adkins, L’12. “My division went through a bad patch, so it’s where I got to see the court system.”

Working with people from a variety of backgrounds turned out to be good preparation for her legal career, she said. It gave her perspective that informs her prosecutorial judgment.

“When it comes down to it, you’re either violating the code of Virginia or you’re not,” she said. “But there might be someone who has a problem with drugs and needs some treatment. That affects your decision-making, not in a way that makes you more lenient or more strict, but you look at a situation holistically.”

Adkins knew she wanted a Navy career from age 5, when she saw the film Top Gun. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, she served for a little less than five years before knee problems forced her early departure.

Still, they were eventful years. She helped prepare ships to support operations in the Middle East and chased Hurricane Katrina into the Gulf of Mexico on the USS Bataan. The ship was among the earliest first responders, sending supplies ashore, plucking survivors from rooftops via helicopter, and bringing injured people on board for medical care. Adkins was one of the many people coordinating the Bataan’s relief operations.

“That was why I joined the military, to be a part of helping people,” she said.