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Area Defense Counsel: here for Airmen

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- My name is Joshua Joyce and I am the new Area Defense Counsel here at Shaw Air Force Base. I am honored to represent the Airmen at Shaw and am excited about my future here. A little about me: I love music, a good book with coffee, and cannot wait for the final season of Game of Thrones. My marching orders here are simple: Defend Airmen.

One of the benefits of being an Area Defense Counsel is that I do not have anyone in my chain of command on base. The reason for that structure is so that no one can try to influence me when I fight for what is best for you. We are here to help you with all legal issues ranging from Letters of Counseling all the way up to General Courts-Martial.

Now, when I first joined the Air Force, I took the commissioning oath on the anniversary of 9/11. It was a sacred oath, an oath that binds generations of Airmen together. The oath represents what is good and noble and best about being an American. I am honored to have the chance to live out that oath every day.

In the civilian world, many people have trouble seeing a defense counsel that way. Some of those people may think I am here to defend guilty people and use technicalities of the law to help them break the law. To be clear, my primary goal is to defend Airmen. Yet, there is so much more to it than that.

You see, the oath that I took was to support and defend the Constitution. There was no piecemealing of the Constitution in that oath. I did not take an oath to support and defend Amendments 1-3, 7, 9-13, and 15-27. It is all or nothing. Further, parts of the Constitution provide various rights to people accused of crimes including the right to not have your things randomly taken and searched, the right to remain silent when questioned about wrongdoing, and the right to an attorney during questioning or in a trial (found in the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments). So if people say, "Your job is to help criminals," I always wonder: Would you look at our Founding Fathers who wrote the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments and tell them they were fighting to help criminals?

The Constitution cost the founding members of this nation, too. The blood, sweat, and tears that went into establishing our new nation was the price we paid for our founding documents. Our military back then was mostly composed of a ragtag band of farmers, traders and shopkeepers. But that was enough to send a King and his empire running. Why? Because we had a cause and that cause was the creation of this beautiful experiment in democracy, a creation birthed from our Constitution. Our cause now is the preservation of this democracy and its Constitution, a cause reflected in our oath.

Never forget the price that was paid for the Constitution up to and including the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments. I intend to fight for it and for you every day.

The Area Defense Counsel Office is located in the Airmen and Family Readiness Center, Bldg 1127, and can be reached at 803-895-1775 or DSN 965-1775.