445 AW legal office offers free legal services

445th Airlift Wing legal office members, Lt. Col, Gregory Baxley, Tech. Sgt. Matthew J. McDonald III and Master Sgt. Rebeccah Stammen, review legal documents during the Feb. 7, 2016 unit training assembly. The wing's legal office helps Airmen with documents like wills, notaries, powers of attorney, and advance medical directives.

445th Airlift Wing legal office members, Lt. Col, Gregory Baxley, Tech. Sgt. Matthew J. McDonald III and Master Sgt. Rebeccah Stammen, review legal documents during the Feb. 7, 2016 unit training assembly. The wing's legal office helps Airmen with documents like wills, notaries, powers of attorney, and advance medical directives.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Numerous benefits are afforded to military members. One benefit is free legal assistance with documents like wills, notaries, powers of attorney, and advance medical directives. These documents can come at substantial cost to civilians but are offered free to Reservists at the 445th Airlift Wing.

A required pre-deployment stop, the legal office can assist deployers in creating a will and powers of attorney. A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone you choose the authority to act in your place. There are many different kinds of powers of attorney; a power of attorney can give someone the power to make financial decisions for you, buy or sell property in your name, or get your children medical care. Each has unique requirements, which reservists can review, as well as find legal assistance worksheets, at https://aflegalassistance.law.af.mil/lass/lass.html. Advance medical directives allow individuals to specify what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or incapacity.

Legal assistance isn't just for deployers, though.

"In my opinion, it never hurts to have a will," said Lt. Col. Greg Baxley, 445 AW Staff Judge Advocate. "Powers of attorney can also be helpful, but consider the purpose and timing of it carefully. You are granting another person decision-making abilities in your life."

In the last year alone, the 445 AW legal office saved members more than $9,700 in civilian legal service fees, more than on various powers of attorney.

"About 20 percent of what we do is legal assistance with these forms," said Master Sgt. Rebeccah Stammen, legal office superintendent. "But we also spend a lot of time answering general legal questions on everything from debt collection and leases to domestic violence."

The legal office can answer questions but cannot legally represent reservists to outside entities.

The office also plays a huge role in advising leadership on disciplinary action, demotions, and medical and conduct discharges. Baxley advised first sergeants and commanders to come to the legal office at the start of the disciplinary process.

"Please come see us earlier, rather than later, in the process," he said.

Baxley stressed that although they strive to "keep standards even across the board," they examine each case on an individual basis.

"No two misconducts or fit to fight failures are the same; each case is different and we look at all the facts and circumstances surrounding it to help the commander decide on appropriate action," he said.

For reservists concerned about adverse actions against them, the Area Defense Council is the on-base legal advocate--the "defense lawyer," rather than the prosecutor.

The 445th AW Legal Office offers legal assistance on the Scarlet unit training assembly, Saturday 1 to 3 p.m. and Sunday 9 to 11 a.m., as well as the Gray UTA, Saturday 1 to 3 p.m. Master Sgt. Stammen is also available one weekday each week and can be reached via email, or calling (937) 257-3535, or DSN 787-3535.