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NEWS | April 22, 2013

Handling the truth: JBLE law slams the gavel on legal concerns

By Airman 1st Class Austin Harvill 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Television dramas depict lawyers and law professionals as sharp-suited, silver-tongued briefcase wielders, too busy for the mundane and always out to solve an impossible case.

Although they may not wear suits, Joint Base Langley-Eustis law professionals do have the wits and patience to advise personnel at Fort Eustis and Langley Air Force Base, Va., on almost everything law-related, whether it be drafting wills or solving courts-martial.

"To take legal issues off the minds of our troops is the essence of our mission," said U.S. Air Force Col. Calvin Anderson, 633rd Air Base Wing legal office commander. "When we do that, I know we've done our part to provide the command with mission-ready people."

Since legal issues take many forms, legal operations are divided into two broad categories: Military Justice and General Law.

Justice incorporates issues such as courts-martial, administrative discharges and non-judicial punishment. Leadership at all levels utilizes this side of military justice to determine fair and reasonable punishment for Service members who violate the law.

More commonly, law professionals work under the general law category by providing advice, counsel and similar legal aid to JBLE personnel.

"It is important for people to realize what the law office does," said Air Force Capt. C.J. Grotewohl, Langley legal assistance chief. "Having a will finished before a deployment, filing your taxes or working out a landlord-tenant issue can save you a lot of time and trouble."

Approximately 35 to 45 clients step into the law office every week for walk-in and scheduled appointments dealing with legal assistance issues. In addition to answering questions under General Law, law office personnel also work on 20 to 25 wills a week.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Alta Odom, a legal assistance client, updated her will after setting up an appointment and was pleased with the service she received.

"I am really happy with their assistance; it's relieved a lot of stress," said Odom. "I've come to them before for legal advice and powers of attorney, and every time I leave, I know I am in good hands."

Legal advice comprises the majority of work handled at the legal office. They can answer questions about divorce law, Virginian law, powers of attorney, ethics issues, claims or just about anything else under the sun.

Helping with personal legal issues isn't the only function of the law office. Before hosting a fund raiser or organizational function, an individual must obtain consent and counsel from the legal office. Furthermore, the law office must review all professional organizations for legal sufficiency to ensure they stay within appropriate boundaries.

Legal issues of any kind have the potential to be extremely in-depth, but even the most novice legal clients can answer their own questions in the comfort of their homes. Grotewohl showcased a resource containing all of the information of the legal office at the push of a button.

"Most of the questions we receive can be answered on our website," said Grotewohl. "It is quicker and more readily available, so it saves our clients' time."

For deploying Service members with a multitude of pre-deployment tasks on their plate, going to the website to initiate a new will or power of attorney can give them a head start before they step into the legal office.

To access the website, go to From there, members can view worksheets required to process various matters, and view topics on a wide-range of legal subjects through the use of a simple drop-down menu. The topics within are written in a user-friendly fashion so users can grasp some of the more complex legal processes.

Fort Eustis Soldiers and other Service members should also utilize the website regardless of its Air Force affiliation, said U.S. Army Capt. Rebecca Hampton, Fort Eustis legal assistance chief.

"I try to send our Soldiers and other Service Members to the website," said Hampton. "Military law is universal in a lot of aspects."

For Army-specific concerns, Hampton said Soldiers can call the Fort Eustis office to receive answers.

Hampton stated the Fort Eustis office can handle Army-specific cases from "Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss" to "General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand."

Whether utilizing the website or speaking with an attorney face-to-face, Hampton and Grotewohl promise to take all questions and provide the answers Service members need.

For more information, call the Langley Law Office at (757) 764-3277 or the Fort Eustis Legal Assistance Office at (757) 878-3031 ext. 222.