21st TSC JAG office wins legal, claims awards
December 13, 2010
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - Customers at the 21st Theater Sustainment Command's Kaiserslautern Legal Services Center can rest assured that they are receiving the best legal help and claims assistance possible.
The legal assistance office was awarded the Chief of Staff Award for Excellence in Legal Assistance for fiscal year 2009, and the claims service office received the Judge Advocate General's Excellence in Claims award.
Both awards were presented by Maj. Gen. Patricia McQuistion, the commanding general of the 21st TSC, Dec. 1 at the KLSC on Kleber Kaserne here.
According to Stephen Smith, the chief of the client services division, office of the staff judge advocate for the 21st TSC, the applications for the Chief of Staff Award for Excellence in Legal Assistance are evaluated based on their quality of legal assistance provided to Soldiers, their family members and other eligible clients; innovations to provide better assistance at the installation for deployment preparation and for deployed forces; professional development of legal assistance attorneys and support personnel; and the quality of the preventive law program.
The KLSC has a strong preventative law program in place.
"We do more than just see clients and help them with their existing legal issues," said Joerg Moddelmog, a German attorney and advisor for the KLSC. "We try to be proactive by preventing issues from arising."
One of the preventative measures the KLSC provides is the Kaiserslautern Legal Informer, a quarterly newsletter, which provides information on various legal topics and can be downloaded from the 21st TSC website at www.21tsc.army.mil.
The center also provides regularly updated handouts on German and U.S. laws as well.
In addition to their preventive law program, the KLSC has the largest Overseas Deployment Training program for Reserve Judge Advocates and paralegals in U.S. Army Europe. The program lets reserve Soldiers do their annual training at the center.
The applications for the Judge Advocate General's Excellence in Claims Assistance were judged based on compliance with regulatory standards and demonstrated innovation in providing outstanding claims service, said Smith.
The claims assistance office at the KLSC is successful largely because of their interaction with their customers.
"Everyone is kind of unhappy when they walk into the claims office and usually frustrated because it's hard to process stuff," said Col. Claes Lewenhaupt, the staff judge advocate for the 21st TSC.
The claims examiners and OSJA employees understand that it is hard what is asked of servicemembers so these legal and claims experts do it with a caring hand, said Lewenhaupt.
Communication is another key to having a successful claims office.
"Over and over I would see someone who has just lost family heirlooms that are just not replaceable, but they had a positive experience because our office was prompt, and we investigated it thoroughly," said Capt. Erik Lapin, the chief of claims at the KLSC. "When we couldn't pay something, we were very clear on why, and most of the time the customers got it."
The KLSC has won the Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence in Legal Assistance 18 times since 1991. The claims assistance office has been awarded the Judge Advocate General's Excellence in Claims Assistance six times since 2003.