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Kristen Beltran: community-focused legal practitioner

  • Published
  • By Sean Schroeder
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

 An intense emotional experience in childhood can set in motion a clear career path. This was the case with Kristen Beltran, who currently runs Goodfellow’s legal assistance office.

She vividly recalled a conversation she had with her mother, who was a substitute teacher when she was in the fourth grade. Beltran remembered her mother telling her that one of her students had developed cerebral palsy from a father’s physical abuse, which was so severe that it caused permanent neurological damage.

Upon hearing this, Beltran remembered experiencing an intense feeling of anger. She decided in that moment, as a young child, she wanted to make her life’s mission to “put bad daddies in jail.” 

Beltran didn’t know at the time that this was a job of a prosecutor, but as she got older, she realized she needed to attend law school and pursue criminal law. 

Decades later, Beltran graduated from Texas Tech University School of Law. After graduation, she worked for the state prosecutor’s office for five years - four years in New Mexico and one year in Colorado. She prosecuted crimes such as murder, domestic violence and sexual assault.  She found the work to be rewarding, seeking justice for people who were victims of heinous crimes. 

Over time, the long hours and stress took an emotional toll on Beltran. She disclosed her work as a prosecutor affected her mental health and realized it was time for a change. 

“After five years, I just needed to step away, something I would love to get back to,” said Beltran.

In 2020, she noticed an opening for a civil attorney at Goodfellow’s legal office. The opportunity piqued her interest since her father served time in the Air Force and had a curiosity of what legal work would look like on a military installation. Beltran applied for the position and was selected.   

In her new role, she provides civil law support, something completely different from her past work, giving her the opportunity to advocate for clients in a new way.

“During her time at Goodfellow, Kristen has provided legal advice to over 400 retirees, dependents, and active duty servicemembers on divorce, child custody, immigration, housing, and wills and estates,” said Heidi White, Beltran’s supervisor, and the chief of civil law for Goodfellow’s legal office. 

“Kristen is an incredible asset to the legal office and the 17th Training Wing. Under her oversight, the legal assistance program ensures a ready force by providing peace of mind to our servicemembers and their families through free legal services and documents,” said Lt. Col. Sean Hudson, 17th Training Wing staff judge advocate.

“Since she arrived at Goodfellow, the legal assistance program has saved military members, retirees, and their dependents over $430,000 in fees. Her dedication to her clients and the Goodfellow community is unmatched.”

Beltran says her job is fulfilling and satisfying. She focuses her efforts on giving her clients guidance and resources that empower them to improve their legal situation.

In addition to the immense satisfaction of helping members of the Goodfellow community, Beltran says her close bonds with her legal office teammates also makes her work fulfilling.   

I really enjoy my coworkers,” said Beltran.  

On a personal level, Beltran got engaged in October. She enjoys traveling and fishing and has a strong interest in WWII history.  Beltran is the oldest of six siblings and has family that is spread across New Mexico and West Texas. She is the only lawyer in her family.  

Today, Beltran doesn’t “put bad daddies in jail,” but instead provides vital legal services to military and family members who need help in areas related to wills, divorce, custody, and housing issues.

"Kristen is a former state prosecutor and a true community-focused legal practitioner. She cares deeply about her clients and really epitomizes the military ethos of ‘service before self,” said White.