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380AEW Article

Legal office provides assistance to the warfighters

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady
  • 380th AEW/PA

During deployments, situations may occur requiring members to deal with matters from back in the United States or another country. At Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, the legal office is trained and ready to assist members during these times.


Their mission is to provide timely and accurate legal guidance on all subject matters to enable the warfighters to accomplish their mission.


“Legal assistance is a critical aspect of what the legal team provides to our service members in every environment,” said Capt. Ross Hoogstraten, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing deputy staff judge advocate. “When a person obtains legal guidance, it is often not in the best of situations and it is a very stressful time. Being deployed, just compounds that stress by being away from a person's support system. A person comes to us for assistance in these tough times, and it is important that we not only give expert legal advice, but also act as an outlet for members.”


The 380th AEW legal office assists with any legal issues deployed members may face at home or during their deployment by providing a range of services.


“We do our best to provide all of the services members with support they would come to expect while at home station,” said Tech. Sgt. Rich Brown, 380th AEW NCOIC of legal office. “For the general base populace, we provide affidavits, powers of attorney, and notary services. We are also able to draft last wills and testaments, living wills, and advanced medical directives.  Additionally, on an appointment basis, we can provide legal guidance on a large variety of civil legal issues members may be experiencing such as divorce, bankruptcy, stateside legal proceedings, child custody, landlord or tenant issues, and more.” 


In addition to supporting the legal readiness of the individual Airman, a key facet of their mission is to provide sound legal advice to commanders regarding the good order and discipline within their respective units. 


“We assist and coordinate on all matters of civil and criminal investigations, review administrative actions such as Letters of Counseling or Letters of Reprimand, and we are the administrators of non-judicial punishment or any other action falling under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice,” said Brown.


“We advise on all issues from law of war to contracts to military justice,” said Hoogstraten. “Legal comes up in almost every environment.”


Those environments are not just limited to ADAB’s members.


“We even had the opportunity to assist a number of members from the other services, including those at other installations across the UAE and the Area of Responsibility, and helped service members assigned to the Embassy staff with many of their legal assistance needs,” added Brown. “One area where we engage in additional outreach is recruiting for the paralegal and JAG career fields.  We are happy to discuss cross-training options and processes, explain what the expectations are for both career fields, and walk members through what it would be like to serve as a member of the JAG Corps at each level.”


The legal office takes pride in knowing their efforts increase the operability at ADAB.


“Being able to provide that assistance and guidance is rewarding,” added Hoogstraten. “It enables the member to be less distracted by the legal issue and to get back to focusing on their mission.  We support them so they can support us.”