By LT Eileen Joy, Defense Service Office, West, Detachment Bremerton
On October 1, 2012, the Judge Advocate General’s Corps reorganized Naval Legal Service Command (NLSC) to meet the Navy’s evolving demands for expeditionary legal services support while continuing to provide quality military justice service. The JAG Corps has replaced the Naval Legal Service Offices (NLSOs) with Defense Service Offices (DSOs). For many years, NLSOs provided both legal assistance services and defense services. Locally, NLSO Northwest became Defense Service Office West Detachment Bremerton on October 1, 2012. DSO West is headquartered in San Diego. The new DSOs’ mission is solely to provide defense services: defending service members in military justice proceedings (e.g. courts-martial), representing them at administrative separation boards, and providing other representational services, including advice on non-judicial punishment and adverse personnel actions.
On October 1, NLSO Northwest transferred its legal assistance services to Region Legal Service Office (RLSO) Northwest. Legal assistance services include wills and powers of attorney, pre-deployment readiness briefs, and matters involving consumer, family, landlord-tenant, and predatory lending law. The main legal assistance office onboard Naval Base Kitsap – Bremerton, and the branch offices at Bangor, Naval Station Everett, and Whidbey Island Naval Air Station will continue to provide legal assistance service at their current locations. The only difference is that they now operate as part of RLSO Northwest. Legal assistance services themselves will not change upon realignment.
The most notable change is in defense services. Sailors and Marines at all installations in the Navy Region Northwest area of responsibility can still receive court-martial and administrative discharge board representation, NJP advice, assistance with Article 138 complaints, etc. How the Sailors and Marines stationed in Everett and Whidbey Island receive defense service related assistance has changed.
In-person assistance will continue to be available at the DSO West Bremerton detachment located onboard NBK-Bremerton in the existing NLSO Defense spaces in Building 433. However, Sailors and Marines onboard Naval Station Everett and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island seeking defense services such as representation for courts-martial or administrative boards must now contact an attorney at the DSO West Detachment Bremerton office instead of on-site assistance at their respective installations. DSO West Detachment Bremerton may be reached at 360-476-2157 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sailors and Marines may call or email from home, from their own command, or from any other location they choose. They may also visit the DSO remote service locations located within the RLSO office on each base and use the private office provided to place their call.
This change will be similar to the way Sailors currently receive personal defense services when they are at sea. Sailors and Marines should be clear upon checking in with the RLSO at those bases that they are there for a phone or video conference with a defense attorney. While RLSO personnel will direct the Sailor or Marine to the private office and provide necessary assistance they should not discuss their particular situation with the RLSO staff.
For more information, please contact the Defense Service Office West Detachment Bremerton Quarterdeck at 360-476-2156.