Legal office here to help, not hinder Airmen

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- If an Airman is in a court martial, the attorneys from the 30th Space Wing Judge Advocate office might not be that Airman' s favorite people. 

However, what that Airman and others across the base might not understand is that while the base legal office deals with criminal proceedings, it also supplies a surplus of legal services for Airmen who aren't on trial.

For instance, Vandenberg deploys more Airmen than any other wing in Air Force Space Command. These frequent deployments can cause a lot of stress on members who are leaving their family to further the Air Force's mission. The 30th SW Judge Advocate office tries to take away some of that stress by advising the Airman on managing their finances while they are down range.

"We can help with power-of-attorney, will and testaments, and give advice on myriad legal documents that a deployer might face before deployment," said Capt. Maria Delimata, the 30th SW Judge Advocate chief of claims. "It is just important that they come to us early, instead of stressing out at the last minute."

Stress is something that this 20-person shop of attorneys and paralegals has to deal with regularly as they work hard to ensure that the base operates in a legal capacity at all times.

"It is the job of the staff judge advocate, who is our commander, to be the legal counsel for the base commander on issues regarding the base," Sergeant Fuller said. "He will be with the commander during exercises or real-world incidents providing legal advice."

Not only does the office advise the base commander, they also help out other commanders with disciplining Airmen.

"We have a wing stand up briefing that allows all commanders to tell of recent disciplinary actions in each unit," Sergeant Fuller said. "This allows the commanders to tell what is going on around base and what methods are effective in dealing with specific problems."

Criminal proceedings are a large part of what this office deals with during day to day activities. However, in those criminal proceedings don't expect the 30th SW Judge Advocate attorney to be kind to the defendant in a legal sense.

"We deal with several different aspects of law," said Staff Sgt. Jenifer Fuller, 30th SW Judge Advocate paralegal. "We are here to help people; however, in criminal cases our allegiance is with the government. "

Don't go to the legal office after committing a crime and expect to be helped. There is another office on base that deals with those situations. 

"If you come asking for legal counsel as a defendant we will turn you away - that's why the Area Defense Counsel is here," said Captain Delimata.

Although misguided perceptions may paint the legal office as a scary place, it is here to help the base as a whole.

"We are nice people," said Captain Delimata. "We just have a job to do, and that is to enforce the consequences of dumb decisions, so they will become a deterrent for others."

If you are deploying or need non-criminal legal advice call 30 SW JA: 605-6200