Prestigious Position: Sen. Edwards Sworn In As JAG in Massachusetts Army National Guard

Sen. Lydia Edwards was sworn in Monday, Oct. 30 as a Judge Advocate General in the Massachusetts Army National Guard.

Edwards continues her family’s outstanding tradition of military service that began with her mother, Retired Master Sergeant Bridgett Edwards, who enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1971 and served with distinction for 23 years.

Lydia Edwards is a graduate of American University’s Washington School of Law.

Her formal title will be First Lt. Lydia Marie Edwards of the Massachusetts Army National Guard.

“As a Judge Advocate General (also known as attorney), I will have the honor to serve and advocate on behalf of those who serve our country,” said Edwards, who will continue in her position as state senator in the First Suffolk and Middlesex District that includes East Boston.

Following are some background facts and personal observations from Sen. Edwards on her prestigious position as a JAG in the Massachusetts Army National Guard:

Her Background

“I was born on St. Patrick Air Force Base in Florida and lived “on base” at various locations mostly in Florida, two bases in England, and KI Sawyer Air Foce Base in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan until I was about 15 years old. 

“Base is a small bubble, but it amounts to an entire ecosystem and culture of service.  Everyone on base is there to serve. My mom had two girls to raise, and we didn’t want for a babysitter, helping hand, or rides home. I am forever grateful to those adults who helped us. I want to give a special shout-out to the base wives. They really connected with my mom and helped her.” 

The Reasons for her Decision

“I think it’s normal for people to do what their parents did. I had interviewed for the JAG while in law school and took an offer from a law firm in Boston. I always wondered about the opportunity I had given up. I actually made it to a second round with JAG.  Then I met Sen. John Velis and Sen. Mike Rush. 

I learned they were very much serving the country and commonwealth. I started the 18-month process soon thereafter.  I was “old” and needed a waiver.   I had support from Council President Ed Flynn, Mayor Michelle Wu, former Gov. Charlie Baker, and various attorney supervisors from my past that could speak to my legal chops. 

I chose the Army because of the comradery and excitement of the people I met. I talked with Hank Naughton, a former state representative, and Jerry Parisella, a current state representative. Both served as Army JAG attorneys. 

 The National Guard is something special. At its very essence is the concept of the citizen soldier.  The person who lives an everyday normal life but when the country calls, you respond.  The Guard is often called during natural disasters and was recently called to respond to the migrant crisis. Many of the soldiers deploy to various locations as well. At each major point, a JAG officer is there to provide legal advice to a commanding officer or to directly represent soldiers (such as writing wills).  This aspect really spoke to me.  I am essentially a legal services attorney for soldiers.

I also deeply believe in civil liberties and that everyone including soldiers should have the right to due process. JAG has defense and prosecutorial aspects.  Soldiers are people who need help.  Some need to fight to keep their jobs as their civilian employer may not want to hear about you deploying for several months.  Some need advice on family matters such as divorce, adoption etc.  Some soldiers have committed horrible crimes and need a defense attorney.” 

What’s next?

“Well, I have been to drill already. I will continue to go once a month and two weeks a year. I will continue to be East Boston’s senator and advocate on Beacon Hill. I won’t be alone with Sen. John Velis (Major -MA NG) and Sen Mike Rush (Commander US Navy) already in the State House. 

Colleagues Offer Their Congratulations to Sen. Edwards

Colleagues in government of Sen. Lydia Edwards extended their congratulatory wishes on becoming a Judge Advocate General in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. Following are their remarks:

State Rep. Adrian Madaro

“I congratulate Senator Edwards on becoming a Judge Advocate General in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. This is a wonderful accomplishment and an amazing way to continue her mother’s legacy of service in the Armed Forces.”

State Rep. Jessica Giannino

“Senator Edwards is a shining example of a strong woman who is continuing a family legacy of military service. I wish her all the best in this journey, and I know that she will being the same commitment she brings to the State House to our soldiers.”

State Rep. Jeff Turco

“Congratulations and best wishes to Lt. Lydia Edwards. From the first time I met Lydia, she has always spoken so well and admirably of her mother’s service in the U.S. Armed Forces. As she joins the ranks of the Massachusetts National Guard as a JAG office, she honors her mom and all of us.”

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