Fort Drum Legal Aid Wins Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence three years in a row | Item

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CPS. Paralegal Aaron Pirwitz assists a client at the legal aid office inside Clark Hall. The Fort Drum Legal Assistance team won the Army Chief of Staff’s Award for Excellence in Legal Assistance (Large Active Army Office Category) for Fiscal Year 2020, this which makes it the third consecutive year recognized for superior service in legal support to the community. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)
(Photo credit: Michael Strasser)


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First Lieutenant Catherine Ricci, legal aid lawyer, advises a soldier at the legal aid office inside Clark Hall.  The Fort Drum Legal Assistance team won an Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence in Legal Assistance (Large Active Army Office Category) for Fiscal Year 2020, this which makes it the third consecutive year recognized for superior service in legal support to the community.  (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)








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First Lieutenant Catherine Ricci, legal aid lawyer, advises a soldier at the legal aid office inside Clark Hall. The Fort Drum Legal Assistance team won an Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence in Legal Assistance (Large Active Army Office Category) for Fiscal Year 2020, this which makes it the third consecutive year recognized for superior service in legal support to the community. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)
(Photo credit: Michael Strasser)


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FORT DRUM, NY (July 9, 2021) – For the third year in a row, the ability of the Fort Drum legal support team to provide the community with high quality legal advice has earned them recognition at the army.

The U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps announced in June that the Fort Drum Legal Aid Office has received the Army Chief of Staff’s Award for Excellence in Assistance legal (Active Army Large Offices category).

Located at Clark Hall, staff provide free legal advice on matters ranging from family law and relations, wills and estate planning to military and civil administrative actions, property tax and income considerations. and civil criminal cases.

“Our mission is to assist our clients with their personal legal affairs in a timely and professional manner by meeting their information needs on personal legal matters and resolving their personal legal issues where possible,” said Dwight Austin. , head of the Fort Drum legal aid office. “The fact that we have been recognized for what we do three years in a row is directly attributable to the exceptional efforts of the entire team. “

In fiscal 2020, Legal Aid Office staff handled 3,342 appointments and provided over 7,400 client services, for a total estimate of over $ 1.5 million. legal services.

Austin said that even in a year when a global health crisis put people’s daily lives on hold, it did not diminish the quality of service they provided.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with unique challenges over the past year, but we were proud to still be able to support soldiers and their families during this difficult time,” said Austin. “We have never been completely closed since the onset of COVID-19. Our phones were on and operational to answer people’s calls. It worked a lot better than we originally expected.

Austin said the majority of appointments were made over the phone until face-to-face meetings could resume.

“We would be at home preparing wills and sending them to our deputy judge advocate who lives in post,” he said. “So he would go to the office and meet people to execute their wills. I think that was one of the differentiators that led to our success during the pandemic. “

Criteria assessed for the award included staffing and the office training plan; an assessment of the quality of legal assistance provided to clients and of efforts to better meet clients’ needs.

While some members of the legal team representing Fort Drum have moved on to their next assignments, Austin said they are critical to their success.

Team members for FY2020 included: Major Ryan MacGillis (Special Advocate for Victims), Captain Amir Hamdoun (Special Advocate for Victims), Captain Jeffery Hatfield (Special Advocate for Victims), Captain Tanner Jameson (Tax Advisory Program Coordinator), Captain. James Kemnitz (judge advocate), Captain Joseph Roman (judge advocate), Captain M. Oliver Shaw (judge advocate), Captain Andrew Logan (judge advocate), Captain Andrew Bobowski (judge advocate), Shawn Graham (lawyer), Marshall Eves (legal assistant), CPS. Roberto Martinez (paralegal) and Spc. Joshua Reid (paralegal). Additionally, U.S. Army Reserve lawyers and paralegals from the 7th Legal Operations Detachment were instrumental in supporting the installation.

“Despite the rotation of military personnel – and it’s a fairly rapid turnover in our office – we have maintained stability, in large part thanks to the civilian base built into the office,” Austin said. “Over the past three years we’ve won this award, I think the consistent base of civilian staff combined with the high quality of lawyers we get in the office provides that stability and continuity.”

The Fort Drum Legal Aid Office is located in Room A2-68, Building 10720 (Clark Hall) on Mount Belvedere Boulevard. Persons eligible for legal aid include all active members of all branches of service and their family members, retirees and family members, and certain other persons under federal law.

For more information visit https://home.army.mil/drum/index.php/about/Garrison/office-staff-judge-advocate-osja/legal-assistance.


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