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Integrity through justice

A still photo of the legal office exterior May 28 at Tyndall, inside judge advocates stand at the ready to assist clients. Judge advocates are licensed attorneys that handle all things legal at Tyndall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Solomon Cook)

A still photo of the legal office exterior May 28 at Tyndall, inside judge advocates stand at the ready to assist clients. Judge advocates are licensed attorneys that handle all things legal at Tyndall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Solomon Cook)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Justice is blind, but it is fair. In a nation of laws, the need for good order does not stop at Tyndall's gate.

The legal office provides various services on Tyndall, having different specialized sections.

Members of the 325th Fighter Wing Judge Advocate military justice are tasked with advising commanders and handing down swift rulings in the form of various disciplinary actions.

"The main thing we do in this office is advise the commanders on discipline and personnel matters," said Capt. Ryan Ditchkofsky, 325th FW Judge Advocate chief of military justice. "Focusing on the legal aspect of what can and cannot be done. When we receive a call we listen to the information on the Airman: disciplinary background, the incident that happened and the type of evidence available."

Obtaining all the necessary information means the legal office sometimes has to coordinate with organizations outside of Tyndall.

"We focus on a lot of big picture things, such as if we have a hearing," Ditchkofsky said. "The amount of work that goes into a hearing is astronomical. Meeting the metric, or timeline allotted, we rush around. Sometimes we have to coordinate with several off-base agencies getting all the evidence together for fast, efficient justice."

Legal action in the military has various levels: court martial, Article 15 and administrative paperwork such as letters of reprimand and letters of counseling, Ditchkofsky added.

After an infraction has occurred, the professionals at the legal office have a short time to get their work done.

"Whenever an offense has been committed that is requiring the various disciplinary actions, the legal office must meet the metric to serve paperwork and any evidence available," Ditchkofsky said. "After that, an Airman has a few days to make elections. That means they both accept what is given to them and write a response or they don't accept it."

Additionally, the legal office coordinates with First Sergeants. They may call to inform the legal office of a problem with an Airman and ask for advice, Ditchkofsky added.

In the legal office, officers and enlisted Airmen work in tandem to achieve their mission.

 

"My daily activities include managing and overseeing the different cases we have going on at the moment," said Tech. Sgt. Audri R. Chavez, 325th FW NCO in charge of military justice. "I am the first stop in the routing chain on all administrative separations, non-judicial punishments or Article 15s, and court martials. I also process reports and gather statistics for Ninth Air Force as they require different reports on a daily basis.  Additionally, my duty is making sure my paralegals and attorneys are taken care of and ensuring I lend a hand when it is needed or mentor where I can."

The legal office's mission is essential in the Air Force. Whether it is to assist commanders in maintaining good order and discipline within units, or helping an Airman with legal assistance, what they do is extremely significant, Chavez added.

Professionals in the legal office will continue to perform their duties, assisting Airmen and bettering the Air Force as a whole.

"It's a good feeling when justice is done," Ditchkofsky said. "Either we get the wrong-doer out of the Air Force or rehabilitate the Airman. Each case is different; it's not always about winning. We take a look at the individual's disciplinary background, time in service and whether it's believed an Airman can be rehabilitated."

In addition to criminal law the wing JA office assists with wills, powers of attorney and any other legal advice Airmen may need.

For legal advice, contact (850) 283-4681.