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One day, she might help a young sailor settle a tenant-landlord dispute. A court martial might be the focus of her attention the next day.

But one thing is certain for Lt. Joey Ann Lonjers. Each day, she’s able to make a difference.

Lonjers is Patuxent River Naval Air Station’s newest Navy lawyer, or staff judge advocate, and the first in nearly 10 years to assume the role at Pax River.

“It’s definitely a balance between being a lawyer and being an officer,” Lonjers said. But, “in the Navy, you’re definitely an officer first.”

This is Lonjers’ second military assignment. Previously, she was in San Diego and doing similar work, which can include supporting Navy Criminal Investigative Services and advising commanding officers, to estate planning and family law for active duty military, retirees and their families.

Lonjers, a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, has been in the Navy for just more than three years. Originally from Fresno, Calif., she attended the University of California Hastings law school and, while there, realized she wanted to pursue a career in government work. Navy recruiters were on campus, she listened to what they had to say and decided “it was a great opportunity.”

The Navy’s JAG public affairs office said that a realignment of legal services last year allowed their department to place a lawyer at Pax River full time. Previously, services were provided on a “part-time rotational basis” by JAGs who traveled from the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Two enlisted sailors, a chief and first class petty officer, also work at Pax River supporting the legal team.

Lonjers has been at Pax River about two months, and will be on station for two to three years. In a JAG position, she has the opportunity to travel the world, and early in her career advise some of the Navy’s critical commands. Those are opportunities that young attorneys long for, she said. “The fact that every tour will be different is something I look forward to.”

Tradition might be part of the draw, as well. Both of Lonjers’ grandfathers served in the military, one in the Air Force and the other in the Army.

“The mission is very important to me,” Lonjers said. And knowing, at the end of the day she might have sent three sailors home with their estate planning documents complete, or helped another take her landlord to small claims court and get a deposit back makes it worth while. “It’s a direct impact that you’re able to see.”

nclark@somdnews.com