No matter the time of year, we all hope and strive for justice.
The holidays, for many, are a joyous time: a time to be with loved ones, to cherish blessings, and to look forward to the coming year. This time of year represents anticipation, but for many also a time of dread. For those service members under investigation or pending legal action, the holiday season brings little comfort.
Whether surrounded by family made by lineage or by a family forged in choice, the Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, or Coastguardsman awaiting charging, a court appearance, or the (hopeful) end to a nightmarish investigation, their thoughts are clouded and distracted by the unknown.
The appeal of leaning forward and hiring advocates sooner in the process rather than later is often overcome by the hope things will “work out” “on their own.” I would venture reluctance to hire private counsel is that same faith in the system that attracts those who answer the call to serve in the armed forces. That faith can hurt their chances once the scales of justice are suddenly hurtling toward them, as they brace to be flattened.
As I closed out this past year I could not help but wonder whether anyone who has faced the depth of betrayal by one’s family will ever truly recover. The military is a service member’s family. Father images abound; discipline and boundaries mixed with caring and connectedness are as much the family values that a person in uniform comes to rely on as one aspires to among bloodlines. There is brotherhood. There is sisterhood. There are bonds shared by common experience. Coming under investigation or worse charging by the family you perhaps substituted for your own is a betrayal that cuts to the core.
Statistics show that attorneys are among the most miserable of any profession. Articles abound warning would-be law students to choose another profession. Those in the trenches of trial work especially are high risk for substance abuse, mental health disorders, vicarious trauma, and even suicide.
So why are we here? Why do we fight?
Some among us may ask this question daily or worse, far more often.
No matter how haggard from the battle, or how weary the gladiator, I cannot help be comforted, however momentarily (but hopefully for much longer) by the sense that I am doing the work that I was intended to do. Whether you are spiritual, religious, believe in some higher power, or merely in fate, I hope there is common ground in striving for or achieving a sense that you are precisely where you were meant to be.
That is where I am. And that is where I’ll stay. For Military Justice.
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