Fort McPherson JAG wins excellence award...again
September 24, 2009
- Chief of Staff Award for Excellence
With countless books filling the bookshelves on the walls of the U.S. Army Garrison Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, wall space is at a premium. Still, the office staff will have to make some room with the arrival of another reward documenting its excellence.
Once again, the OSJA staff has been awarded the Chief of Staff Award for Excellence in Legal Assistance for the year of 2008 in the medium-office-size category. The plaque will join the others earned throughout previous years documenting the office's excellence in service.
"Every year but one we got the award when we submitted (an application package)," said Marcia Parker, chief of client services, OSJA. "I would have been surprised if we didn't win it."
The statement doesn't come from arrogance, but a confidence in the quality of service provided by the office, Parker said.
"We don't just make any decisions, we make them in mind with our mission," Parker said.
That mission is to provide the most accurate, responsive, compassionate legal advice available in a wide array of areas and for the entire military community in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area, Parker said.
With a population of nearly 75,000 to serve, it is a large undertaking for the three person section, which includes Parker, attorney Dann Naggiar and paralegal Tanya Cole. Despite the large ratio of client to provider, the group aims to keep the average wait time below four days, Parker said.
One manner in which this is accomplished is through coming up with innovative ways to enhance customer service, Cole said. For example, this year she created a database to track operations and services provided, a database which is being implemented by other judge adjutant group offices Army-wide.
Besides saving time with features like these, the staff also helps save clients lots of money, a bonus in down economic times, Parker said.
"We save our clients a tremendous amount of money. For example the average non-contested divorce petition is $600 and the average cost for a probate petition is $1,500," she said. "Our widowed clients often comment on how grateful they are for our probate services." Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person by resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person's property under the valid will.
Money is also saved during tax season (January through April) when the OSJA staff operates a tax center to help clients prepare and file their federal and state income taxes, Parker said.
All of these services provided (which also include notary services, power of attorney, legal advice, the execution of wills, estate-planning advice and assistance for credit/debt problems, consumer issues, landlord-tenant problems and real estate transactions) and the ways which they are provided impressed the judges enough to award the OSJA the award, the highest possible award available to such an office, Parker said.
What makes the award even more prestigious is that it is an Army-wide award, Cole said, with every Army OSJA competing for a chance to be recognized. Of all the active duty medium-sized offices in the Army, only10 received the award.
"It's nice to be recognized for a job well done," Naggiar said, crediting the win to the experience and personalities in the office.
"It comes natural to us," Parker said. "We do this day in and day out."
An average day for the group, but one that provides extraordinary results for those served. Cole said she recalled Parker traveling to North Georgia State College to help a terminally ill servicemember prepare necessary legal documents to prepare for his death.
For Naggiar, he remembered helping a client falsely accused of not paying child support get the charges thrown out of court.
"It's about helping people who can't help themselves," Naggiar said.