SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- --
For Airmen seeking confidential and independent legal representation not affiliated with any base legal office or wing, the Area Defense Counsel and Special Victims Counsel are free resources available to help.
Both resources are located on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, and independently report to the Air Force Legal Operations Agency, which allows them to provide confidential advice to Airmen and ensures that their interests are represented.
“We work in the interest of our client and do not fall under any Airman’s chain of command,” said Capt. Ryan Crnkovich, ADC for Peterson and Schriever AFB. “It doesn’t matter if you are enlisted or an officer, we provide our services to you.”
The ADC mission centers on providing confidential, independent legal representation in all criminal or administrative actions taken against Airmen. The Office of the ADC can assist those who are facing courts-martial, administrative discharge boards, nonjudicial punishment under Article 15, Uniform Code of Military Justice, or have been advised on their rights pursuant to Article 31, UCMJ, and more.
“Prior to serving as an Area Defense Counsel, I was the chief of military justice at Peterson AFB,” Crnkovich said. “In that capacity, I assisted law enforcement and prosecuted courts-martial. I’ve seen my fair share of criminal and administrative actions taken against Airmen, so I know how to help Airmen through these difficult situations.”
Like the ADC, the SVC works for both Schriever and Peterson Airmen (as well as Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station), and provides general legal advice. The difference between the two is that the SVC specializes in sexual assault cases and victim representation, and unlike a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, they are licensed attorneys. Legal matters the SVC deal with include sexual assault cases, equal opportunity complaints, consultation on the SARC process as well as general legal advice.
Capt. Chloe Brighton, SVC for Peterson and Schriever AFB, said the SVC provides vital clarity to the legal process for victims in their times of need.
“Our job is to advise, advocate and empower victims of sexual assault,” she said. “We try to develop the victim’s understanding of the military justice process, their rights and how we will protect those rights as well as provide transparency to the overall process.”
Legal representation is a right for all Airmen under the UCMJ. The ADC and SVC personify this right, giving Airmen a way to receive guidance through the legal process.
“The right to have an attorney represent you in criminal matters is key to the system of checks and balances that our country was founded on,” Crnkovich said.
Brighton said she is honored to have the chance to help out those in need.
“We represent the interests of the client, which is a very powerful thing,” she said. “The support we provide during a very confusing time can be instrumental in the legal process.”
Both Crnkovich and Brighton agree their services provide a crucial, independent link between Airmen, and the law and benefits the Air Force as a whole.
Crnkovich encourages any Airman, active duty, reserve or Department of Defense civilian, seeking legal advice, to reach out.
“We encourage members to come see us, anytime for any reason whatsoever,” he said. “We are never too busy to assist an Airman.”
To contact the ADC, call 556-7611.
For SVC services, call 240-278-7773.