Rakkasans Assist Iraqis With Legal Claims
November 6, 2007
The nondescript building at the Radwaniyah Palace Complex Civil Military Operations Center appears unassuming, but the Government Information Center represents a beacon of hope for some Iraqis.
While the GIC provides several services, one of the most invaluable for local residents is the paying of legal claims.
With the Commandos of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), on their way back home, this is just one of many missions the Rakkasans of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division have taken over.
"(Local Iraqis) come in with all kinds of complaints," said Huda, the GIC administrator, who also translates between the Iraqis and the U.S. Soldiers processing the claims.
Huda and Faik, the Iraqi attorney who works at the GIC, do most of the claim work.
"(People) come in with requests to be paid for damages, and I help (file) new claims," Huda said.
Faik determines whether or not a claim is legitimate. He and Huda prepare the paperwork and collect the evidence required to prove that the claim is valid. The 3rd BCT legal office personnel determine whether or not the United States is actually responsible for damages and whether or not the claimant will be paid.
"Sometimes it is not for the United States to pay; it is the fault of an explosion by terrorists," Huda explained, adding over the 2.5 years she has worked at the GIC there have been months when less than half the claims are found to be legitimate.
When Faik deems the claims valid, the packets are forwarded to the 3rd BCT legal office for a final review and payment.
"By the time it gets to me, it's already been determined that the claim is legal," said Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Williams, from Tampa, Fla., senior 3rd BCT, 101st Abn. Div., paralegal and foreign claims pay agent. He actually makes the payments to the claimants.
"My job is both good and bad," Williams said. "Obviously, I pay money when the damages were caused by the United States. But at the same time, when a claim is denied, I have to explain that the United States is not going to pay."
The CMOC is a blessing for some Iraqis, Huda said. She said now the Iraqis feel that they have a means to get assistance. "It's very great for them and they are grateful for it."
She added, "I like to help; it is good for me because I help the (Iraqi) people and the U.S. Army."