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ADC here to represent Airmen who need help

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --  Capt. Jason Largey, Area Defense Council, hands papers to Senior Airman Shaun Bustillos, defense paralegal for the Area Defense Council, in the Courtroom in Bldg 10577 on Friday. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jonathan Olds)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Capt. Jason Largey, Area Defense Council, hands papers to Senior Airman Shaun Bustillos, defense paralegal for the Area Defense Council, in the Courtroom in Bldg 10577 on Friday. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jonathan Olds)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- An unsung hero is a person who makes an essential yet unrecognized contribution. If military members face a Letter of Reprimand or an Article 15, the Area Defense Counsel could be their unsung hero.

An independent entity at Vandenberg, the ADC falls under the Air Force Legal Operations Agency. Therefore, the ADC offers counsel free of pressure from a client's chain of command, said Capt. Jason Largey, the area defense counsel here.

Captain Largey's chain of command runs through Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. This allows the ADC to stay clear of any conflict of interests involving the on base command.
"We aren't rated by anyone on this base," Captain Largey said. "We are here to zealously advocate for our clients."

In addition, the ADC takes an honest approach at advising its clients in legal matters. It takes pride in offering its clients aggressive and honest legal advice and representation.

"Unlike the civilian sector, there is no need to prove you can't afford an attorney," Captain Largey said. "As a servicemember it is your right to have one."

By representing military members facing disciplinary action from military authorities, the ADC is focused on doing what is best for the individual they represent, even if it entails representing a client against the Air Force.

In order for the ADC to work effectively, counsel communications with the ADC are confidential and protected under law. Potential clients shouldn't be worried about revealing sensitive information.

"We take client's confidentiality rights very serious," Captain Largey said. "As a matter of fact, if there is more than one person involved in an investigation, we will take the first person that comes to us and any others will be represented by another ADC. This allows me to ensure I am giving 100 percent to my client."

The ADC represents clients through 20 different types of cases, including Letters of Reprimand, accident investigations and Articles 15.

Vandenberg's ADC covers a wide range of Air Force personnel, not only at Vandenberg, but also more than 2,000 Airmen at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif.

"The students at the DLI are split up into two of the largest squadrons in the Air Force, having a thousand Airmen each."

The ADC will sometimes get referrals from bases located on the West Coast, including Alaska.

The ADC realizes the importance of people understanding their rights, urging people not to give statements when under investigation until they have spoken to an ADC representative. A statement given prematurely, before the evidence against a client is shown, could potentially decide a case unfavorably for the client, depending on how that statement is construed.

"At the moment you feel you are under investigation, you have a legal right to contact us," said Captain Largey.

Members of the Judge Advocate General Corps are some of the most distinguished and best legal representatives in the Air Force. Nominated by their commanders to exclusively defend fellow military members, a counselor must be experienced and good at litigation.

The ADC can give, in some cases, essential career saving advice to an Airman facing a discharge or a military disciplinary action. To some, this advice may go unnoticed, but to those in need, it would be heroic.