WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is proud to present the inaugural 2017 NAPABA Military and Veteran Service Award to Commander Sylvaine W. Wong, deputy director of the United States Navy Office of the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, Military Manpower Division. The NAPABA Military and Veteran Service Award — a brand new award — seeks to recognize individuals within the Asian Pacific American legal community serving the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, including Reserve and National Guard) as uniformed personnel or as civilians or as veterans of the Armed Forces whose outstanding achievements (1) greatly enhanced the mission of the Armed Forces; (2) contributed to the advancement of rights for service-members, their families, and/or veterans; or (3) furthered the administration of justice.
The 2017 NAPABA Military and Veteran Service Award will be presented at the NAPABA Anniversary Gala at the 2017 NAPABA Convention in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 4, 2017.
Commander Wong’s military career has seen her traverse the globe from U.S. military bases to the Pentagon to deployments in support of the most historically significant combat operations over the last two decades. Her tireless dedication to advancing the principals of justice and the rule of law has left lasting impacts not only on the individual service members and their families she has represented, but also on policymaking and programmatic efforts at the national and international levels.
A few highlights of Commander Wong’s military career include:
- Multiple deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, including to Kandahar, Afghanistan, and on board the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson;
- Establishing one of the most robust and precedent-setting waterfront legal assistance programs to bring legal services directly on to the decks of combat ships;
- Championing for the rights and advocacy on behalf of military sexual assault victims; and
- Contributing to the repeal of the U.S. government’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on military service by homosexuals and bisexuals.
Upon moving to Washington, D.C., in 2007, Commander Wong became one of the JAG Corps’ subject matter experts on administrative law, specifically pertaining to personnel law and military rights and benefits. As part of the Department of the Navy’s Equal Opportunity program, Commander Wong reviewed hundreds of investigations by individual sailors for alleged violations of military regulations and statutory law, including congressional inquiries. Her review of the specific administration of the program for compliance with federal law also contributed to the Navy’s long-term preparations leading up to the 2011 repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in military service by homosexuals and bisexuals.
Commander Wong returned once again to Washington, D.C., in 2016 after a posting in Italy to serve as the deputy director for Recruiting and Diversity for the Office of the Judge Advocate General (Military Personnel Division). Currently, she is responsible for the policy development and execution oversight of the entire JAG Corps’ recruiting, accession, and retention mission. In addition to managing the recruiting program, which spans the over 200 American Bar Association-accredited law schools throughout the nation, she has reinvigorated the JAG Corps’ diversity and inclusion efforts, compelling new initiatives to bring diversity and inclusion into all aspects of career development and retention within the JAG Corps.
Among the efforts Commander Wong has spearheaded is the Diversity Liaison Program, empowering both junior and senior officers within the Navy JAG Corps to work substantively with national affinity bar associations and law student organizations to develop meaningful long-term partnerships. This program is designed to offer mentorship, resources, and subject matter expertise to the members of these various organizations while simultaneously promoting public service in the legal profession.
NAPABA congratulates Sylvaine W. Wong as the inaugural 2017 NAPABA Military and Veteran Service Award recipient.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 50,000 attorneys and over 80 national, state, and local bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government.
NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.