Judge Advocate General


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BENEFITS THAT GO WELL BEYOND SALARY

Many law students and practicing attorneys want to become a JAG because it's rewarding personally, professionally and, of course, financially. You'll receive a wealth of benefits no other civilian law firm could offer, leaving you happy, fulfilled, enriched and well compensated.

Salary

Active duty pay for JAG attorneys is competitive. The amount depends on when you accept a commission and where you are stationed. Basic military pay is based on your time in the Air Force and your rank.

View the typical annual base pay for AF personnel here. The left side of the chart represents your rank or pay grade. The top of the chart represents the number of years on active duty. Judge advocates enter active duty in the Air Force as first lieutenants (O-2) and are promoted to captain (O-3) after six months.

Housing and Food Tax-Free Allowances

Judge advocates are not required to live on base, although those with families may choose to live on base depending on availability and preferences. If you choose to live off base, you will receive a monthly tax-free Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), which pays most, if not all, of your housing costs. The housing allowance is based on civilian rental costs by pay grade, dependency status and location. View specific location allowances here.

Officers also receive a flat monthly food allowance, Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), and can also save by shopping at the tax-free, on-base department and grocery stores.

Medical Care

You will have free comprehensive medical and dental care as an Air Force member, potentially saving you and your family thousands of dollars annually. Free medical care, when available, is offered at military medical facilities. When medical care is not available, you are entitled to partial reimbursement for the cost of most types of medical treatment provided at civilian hospitals and clinics.

Leave

From day one, you will earn 30 days of vacation with pay a year, in addition to 10 federal holidays and paid sick leave.

Promotions

Judge advocates are considered for promotion in a separate category from other Air Force Officers. The chart below is illustrative of what is generally the case for promotions in the Air Force JAG Corps, although timing may vary.

Promotion To Years of Service Promotion Opportunity
Captain 6 months 100%
Major 6-7 years 95%
Lieutenant Colonel 13 years 85%
Colonel 18 years 60%

Continuation Pay Program

After you complete your initial four-year service obligation, you can qualify for a retention program that allows the service to pay you up to $60,000 if you stay with the Air Force. Sign up for another two years after your initial four-year commitment, and you receive $20,000. Then, at the six-year point, sign up for four more years and receive another $40,000. The money can be used for whatever you want (e.g., loans, cars, house, investments, etc.). While we expect this robust retention program to remain for years to come, it is contingent on annual Congressional approval.

Life Insurance

Air Force members can participate in Service Members’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI), an inexpensive group life insurance for military members. SGLI coverage is available in $10,000 increments, up to a maximum of $400,000.

Retirement

Your retirement will be vested at 20 years, allowing you to retire with a generous military pension, with no payroll contributions from you. Once retired, you will also enjoy continued access to commissaries, exchanges and healthcare.

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a Federal Government–sponsored retirement savings and investment plan available to military members. It is an optional program offered in addition to your regular military retirement pension.