As a former Navy JAG and professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, I take to heart a popular Latin inscription in the Navy: “Non sib sed patriae.” It means, “Not for self, but for country.” That selfless mentality forged the collective courage of our graduates and service members of all stripes. Our military have sacrificed throughout their service for our families, communities and countrymen. It was their duty to protect our country and to fight for freedom and justice.
It is the country’s duty to protect our servicemen, to promote their freedom and to ensure justice for them. We must promise that their sacrifice does not land them in legal jeopardy and assert legal protections that provide military with a safer and easier return.
It is for this reason that I am heading up the Office of Military Legal Assistance. The office seeks to facilitate a range of free civil legal services for qualified Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard members at home. For our veterans, it will begin by providing wills and powers of attorney. By July, servicemen and women who reside in our state will be able to use the office to address their legal needs and concerns.
In order to further this mission, an advisory committee of both veterans and civilians has identified the necessary services and legal parameters for such assistance. Throughout the program’s development, the mission to effectively represent Nevada’s military population on critical legal issues resounds.
Ultimately, the office aims to bolster military readiness and heighten confidence by providing service members with the knowledge that their legal affairs will be managed in their absence. In practice, the office will pair military service members in need of legal assistance with pro-bono private legal counsel on approved civil cases. The office will enable active duty service members, reservists, guardsmen and women, and veterans to address legal issues that could disrupt their lives and therefore, ultimately, our communities.
The Office of Military Legal Assistance will be the nation’s first Attorney General-led, public-private partnership to give military communities access to pro-bono civil legal services. We are recruiting Nevada lawyers every day to fulfill this mission. We are also grateful for the wonderful partnerships developed with existing legal aid service providers in the state who are committed to this new mission.
This program will better protect our servicemen and women in their civilian lives. In homage to country and in sacrifice of self, they contribute to our state in a myriad of essential ways. With this program, we hope to provide our military heroes with the support they so deserve.
Adam Paul Laxalt is Attorney General of Nevada