What does the base legal office do for you?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Thomas Couture
  • 341st Space Wing Judge Advocate
Maintaining discipline is always going to be important in any military organization. At Malmstrom AFB, where we have the youngest work force in the Air Force, we have a very busy military justice workload. But while helping commanders ensure good order and discipline in their units is an important part of our job, it's not the only service the legal office provides for Malmstrom Airmen. In fact, my staff performs a host of activities that has nothing to do with punishment or discipline - this is what I refer to as the "good" part of the legal office mission.

The base legal office, located in building 770 across from the big missile on Goddard Drive, provides free assistance and legal advice to active duty, National Guard, Reserve, retired military members and their family members, Monday through Thursday from 8 to 9 a.m. or by special appointment. Last year, we provided assistance and advice to more than 1,900 clients - the largest number being in the E-5 to E-9 group. Some of the more common assistance we provide includes will preparation, powers of attorney, legal advice on domestic relations (divorce/separation/custody issues), consumer affairs and landlord-tenant issues. Much of this advice is related to deployment readiness. My legal staff prepared and executed more than 400 wills and 1,861 powers of attorney in 2006. These services helped ensure our deploying troops were able to focus exclusively on mission accomplishment, not legal problems. It also saved them more than $130,000 in legal fees they would have paid to a downtown attorney for the same assistance. Now that's a service to our Malmstrom Airmen!

Do you have a vehicle title or school form that needs a notary? We provide free walk-in notary service Monday through Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. or by appointment. Come in to the legal office and we'll take care of it for you. Chances are, whatever tough legal problem you have, one of my attorneys can resolve it or direct you to an expert who can.
The legal office, along with dozens of irreplaceable tax volunteers, is also making a huge difference for Airmen through our administration of the wing tax program. In 2006, the Malmstrom tax center, also located in building 770, prepared and electronically filed more than 1,700 free tax returns totaling more than $1.8 million dollars and saving clients (a majority in the E-1 to E-6 grades) more than $140,000 in filing fees. The tax center is open Monday through Friday from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Walk-in hours are available only for 1040EZ or 1040A filers. All other tax assistance requires an appointment by calling 731-3157.

When not providing legal assistance or tax advice, the legal office provides daily advice on a myriad of civil law issues such as fundraiser requests, ethics questions, and advice on the legal sufficiency of all wing environmental, labor and contract programs.
As you can see, the legal office mission is much more than advising commanders on disciplinary issues or litigating courts-martial. It is about providing legal services to you, our clients, in order to help you save time and money.

If you have any questions about what legal services are available, call 731-2878.