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Bolling legal office staff takes six AFDW awards

Left to right, Lt. Col. Rima V. Silenas, Capt. Candace L. Hunstiger, Lt. Col. Dawn M. K. Zoldi and Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Vilmenay pose for a photo March 26 at the 11th Wing Legal Office. Six members of the 11th Wing garnered Air Force District of Washington Judge Advocate General Awards, which were announced March 21. Colonel Silenas is currently on Reserve duty at the Air Force Legal Operation Agency.(U.S. Air Force photo by Thomas Dennis)

Left to right, Lt. Col. Rima V. Silenas, Capt. Candace L. Hunstiger, Lt. Col. Dawn M. K. Zoldi and Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Vilmenay pose for a photo March 26 at the 11th Wing Legal Office. Six members of the 11th Wing garnered Air Force District of Washington Judge Advocate General Awards, which were announced March 21. Colonel Silenas is currently on Reserve duty at the Air Force Legal Operation Agency.(U.S. Air Force photo by Thomas Dennis)

BOLLING AFB, D.C. -- Six members of the 11th Wing garnered Air Force District of Washington Judge Advocate General Awards, which were announced March 21.

The 2007 winners from Bolling include Lt. Col. Dawn M. K. Zoldi, outstanding career armed services attorney; Capt. Candace L. Hunstiger, outstanding judge advocate; Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Vilmenay, outstanding paralegal senior NCO; Master Sgt. Rita D. Hummel, outstanding reserve paralegal; Rima V. Silėnas, outstanding civilian attorney; and Joyce M. Yocum, outstanding legal service civilian.

"I'm extremely proud of our six award winners from the 11th Wing Judge Advocate staff," said Col. Kurt F. Neubauer, 11th Wing commander. "Their stellar accomplishments and outstanding work ethic are a vivid example of the superior service our people provide to Airmen in the National Capital Region and worldwide, and is a credit to them and the entire JA team."

Lt. Col. Dawn M. K. Zoldi
Colonel Zoldi's award covers her entire 15-year Air Force career. The colonel said she's "honored to be recognized. But in the end, it's all about making a difference. That's the greater prize."

She believes the legal guides she's authored that are still used worldwide led to her selection. They include:
· Flying Evaluation Board Guide, adopted by Air Combat Command;
· Secretary of the Air Force Inspector General JAG Guide to IG Investigations; and
· How to Read a Litigation Package, for the Air Force Drug Testing Program.

"My personal goal has always been to leave a place better than how I found it," Colonel Zoldi said. "Seizing the moment and taking initiative are key ingredients to success, in my opinion. I also have also been blessed to have had many great bosses who supported me. They gave me wings and let me fly. I try to do the same for my folks - and they have obviously soared."

Col. Rodger A. Drew, AFDW staff judge advocate said, "She is peerless, in my estimation, and highly deserving of recognition for the contributions she has made to our corps, to the Air Force mission and to our great nation."

Capt. Candace L. Hunstiger
Captain Hunstiger is the deputy staff judge advocate. She believes the keys to her success are contributing to the office earning "Outstanding" ratings in the 2007 Unit Compliance and Article 6 Uniform Code of Military Justice inspections; reducing legal work backlog while deployed to Iraq by reviewing and provided legal guidance on more than 1,150 security internees; and ensuring the office was 100 percent compliant in all unit self inspections.

The captain said winning the award was unexpected. "I was very pleasantly surprised because I did not know Lieutenant Colonel Zoldi had nominated me," she said. Captain Hunstiger credits her success to her parents for instilling in her values and a work ethic, and to the Air Force for the outstanding mentors and leaders she's worked for.

Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Vilmenay
Sergeant Vilmenay is the law office superintendent. He credits his success to the staff's "Outstanding" UCI and Article 6 ratings; running a successful recognition program; ensuring the staff has the personnel and equipment; and developing several office productivity tools, including a military justice tracker, virtual in-out board and tort claims tracker.

"I am honored. I am also grateful for the JA crew I work with on a daily basis," said Sergeant Vilmenay. "I owe much of my personal success to this group of talented, dedicated professionals."

The sergeant said his keys to success are a hard-work ethic, pride in what he does for the Air Force and the Judge Advocate General Corps, and an internal drive to contribute and help the team achieve its goals.

Master Sgt. Rita D. Hummel
Sergeant Hummel is a Reserve paralegal. During a special duty tour to Air Force Legal Operations Agency on Bolling, she enabled the transfer of cassette recordings of court-martial proceedings to digital format. In addition, she placed service before self by working several 24-hour days, behind-the-scenes, gathering evidence, conducting interviews and reviewing transcripts.

During her Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment, Sergeant Hummel helped stand up the Headquarters Air Force Irregular Warfare Requirements Division, which helped establish daily operations of the new office.

Rima V. Silėnas
Ms. Silėnas is chief of the general law division. The National Capital Region's premier ethics attorney, she provided legal guidance to the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard, allowing them to keep their holiday season toy drive in legal lanes. She worked on the memorandum of agreement that ensured the U.S. Air Force Band's 60th Anniversary of the Air Force concert was broadcast on Maryland Public Television. She protected the band's trademark and copyright from internet music pirates. Most notably, she was the driving force behind reorganizing the Air Force Charity Ball's logistical support to comply with Department of Defense guidance.

Ms. Silėnas also played a role in Bolling's privatized housing program by co-authoring a lease addendum that gave the 11th Wing commander law-enforcement rights in base housing. In preparing of more than 570 wills, Ms. Silėnas saved Bolling Airmen $85,000.

Joyce M. Yocum
Ms. Yocum is the assistant claims officer, where she earned a "Superior Performer" Award during the 2007 UCI, in part for taking on the jobs of three people. In handling collections against negligent movers, she exceeded the Air Force average of 85 percent with a 96 percent success rate. She processed 89 percent of claims within 10 days, besting the Air Force average of 80 percent within the same time period. For a period of several months, Ms. Yocum straddled law offices at the 316th Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and here, assisting in medical reimbursement collections throughout the NCR. She recovered $116,000 for the medical facilities from insurance companies to treat AFDW's Airmen and their families.

"The recognition of my awesome staff is well deserved," Colonel Zoldi said. "Since my arrival about a year ago, we've faced numerous challenges and always came out on top. I am so incredibly proud of them and what they do to support our 11th Wing mission and this great nation every day."