Today is Veteran’s Day, and I hope you all have taken out time to thank someone who served or is serving our country in a military capacity. I know I have. I am privileged to live with a former Marine, so it is easy and natural for me. You don’t have to look far either, so make sure you do. Veterans are all around you, and they really would appreciate the acknowledgment today and every day.
In thinking about Veteran’s Day, I am reminded that service to your country as a lawyer is something that some of you may want to think about. I am the daughter of a military lawyer, who served in the European Theater during WW II, and my husband also served as a JAG officer in the Marine Corps Reserves after active duty during the Vietnam War years. This makes me proud, and it also makes me think that being a JAG officer would be very interesting and rewarding.
Really, you say, but I am a woman. Not so fast. There are many women lawyers serving in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps today, and THE Judge Advocate General of the US Navy—-THE top lawyer in the Navy— is a woman. I have met Vice Admiral Nanette De Renzi, and she is a very impressive naval officer and a very lovely woman to boot. According to those who work with her, Nan is tough when she needs to be and every bit the woman when she wants to be. That’s my kind of professional woman!
Each branch of the armed forces—the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard– has a Judge Advocate General. The Judge Advocate General officer is in charge of all judge advocates and is responsible for all legal matters affecting that branch of the service.
The Free Legal Dictionary defines the JAG Corps and a JAG officer as follows:
“Judge advocates are attorneys who perform legal duties while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. They provide legal services to their branch of the armed forces and Legal Representation to members of the Armed Services. In addition, judge advocates practice international, labor, contract, environmental, tort, and administrative law. They practice in military, state, and federal courts. A judge advocate attorney does not need to be licensed to practice law in the state in which he or she practices because they are part of a separate, military system of justice. …
A judge advocate is admitted to the armed services as an officer. Because the Uniform Code of Military Justice is different from civilian law in many respects, a judge advocate undergoes an orientation and then education in Military Law. The U.S. Army’s JAGC school, for example, at Charlottesville, Virginia, provides a ten-week academic course for new JAGC officers to learn about the mission of the corps and to receive an overview of military law.” www.legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com
For a first-hand account of experience of a female intern in the JAG Corps, consult Ms. JD at ms-jd.org/navy-jag-corps. Although the numbers have changed since this 2007 post, it is a good source of general information about the JAG experience through the eyes of a female law student.
So, if you have not yet thanked a veteran today, you still have plenty of time. There is sure to be one on your train or your bus going home tonight or one at the local food market or one just down the street in your neighborhood. They might be easier to spot on a day like today when some of them will be wearing little American Flags in their lapels.
Veterans are proud of their service, and we are proud of them. We thank them for their sacrifice and for helping to keep us safe at home and abroad. We know that they are young and old, black and white, red, brown and yellow and that they serve their country out of love and dedication to freedom. We appreciate their bravery and their willingness to put themselves in harm’s way for our sake and the sake of our country.
Happy Veteran’s Day and THANK YOU to all the vets!