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Airman shines as Guard, civilian legal expert

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Rachel Simones
  • 178th Wing

Senior Master Sgt. Erin Bouchane followed in her father’s footsteps when she joined the Air National Guard in 1998. She was enticed by the tuition benefits and originally only planned to fulfill one enlistment.

“During the fourth year of my enlistment, I became more engaged with the base and formed many working relationships and friendships, which I still have now,” said Bouchane.

Bouchane began her career in Information Management, but eventually cross-trained into the paralegal career field, which aligned with her civilian career at the time.

“Even though my legal office role with the Air National Guard is very different from the civilian side, I love the variety,” said Bouchane. “The fact I get to work with a smaller legal team, and also be a part of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps has been a wonderful experience.”

After nearly 22 years in the military, Bouchane now serves as the 178th Wing Law Office superintendent and she also serves as the Investigator with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in her civilian career.

“The rules, regulations and codes may be different between the military and civilian sides, but the skills needed to conduct research, interviews, detect compliance vs non-compliance, assist with depositions and provide direct support to attorneys, essentially remain the same,” said Bouchane. “All of it requires being thorough, extremely organized and working as a team.”

Balancing all of these different roles and tasks can be challenging, but Bouchane found an outlet to stay mentally and physically fit.

“I am a half-marathon runner and I run between 100-130 miles per month. It helps me stay healthy, keep my sanity and constantly set new goals and challenges for myself,” said Bouchane. “But, it also doesn’t come without its setbacks. Sometimes you don’t meet your goals, or you have an unexpected injury, illness or family obligation going on that sets you back. Running has taught me to be adaptable, accept the setbacks, try your best of overcome them and move on. These are all lessons that blend over into your life in general, and within your career.”

Bouchane’s tenacity for life spills over into every role she plays in life as a runner, wife, mother, superintendent and investigator. Recently, she even earned the rank of senior master sergeant through the Stripes for Exceptional Performers (STEP) program. A STEP promotion is used by commanders to recognize exceptional performers by immediately awarding them the next rank.

“I have no regrets since I enlisted in 1998 and I am forever grateful for the relationships and mentorships that have blossomed and developed me throughout my career,” said Bouchane. “I’m striving to do the same and give back.”

If there is any advice Bouchane would give to Airmen, it is to dig deep and find inner motivation. Taking on new challenges and duties outside one’s typical role can create a path for military success.

“Find something that motivates you to do more and do better,” said Bouchane. “My goal is to leave a footprint to pave the way for members to achieve their training and missions more efficiently and effectively, all the while learning from them at the same time.”