By Mr. Michael K Beaton (IMCOM Europe)April 20, 2018
ANSBACH, Germany -- Soldiers may not always be certain of all their legal rights, entitlements or responsibilities when stationed overseas but they are always able to turn to the Ansbach Legal Assistance Office (LAO) for clarification and help, and at no charge.
"Legal services can also be very expensive - but not for Soldiers, most family members, ID cardholder DoD civilians and retirees in the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach community." said Austen Swain at the Ansbach Law Center located on the third floor in building 5817 on Katterbach Kaserne.
Swaim, the newly arrived Office of the Staff Judge Advocate Chief of Client Services and Legal Assistance knows what he is talking about. Prior-service Army, he holds a Doctorate in Jurisprudence (J.D.) from Southern Methodist University (SMU) Dedman School of Law, Dallas Texas, and is a member of that state's Bar.
Though a relative newcomer to Ansbach, Swaim is no stranger to the legal challenges faced by Soldiers serving in Germany; he was stationed in Stuttgart where he worked as a member of the JAG office legal team and has served as a lawyer in the Army for more than four years. While stationed in Stuttgart from summer 2013 to summer 2016, Swaim established a popular column specifically to assist Soldiers with Status of Forces (SOFA), U.S. and German legal questions, "Ask a JAG", and regularly researched and wrote on questions commonly faced by service members stationed overseas such as German contractual law, financial and property law, immigration and valuable information regarding updated military benefits and service member tax entitlements.
"Legal assistance available through the law center is provided free, and covers everything from military entitlement disputes, family law and estate planning, to military administration and consumer law issues, along with free tax preparation from January to June" said Swaim.
"Though all of our services are no cost, surprisingly Soldiers - particularly younger Soldiers - are still often unaware that they have access to no-cost legal services here in Ansbach, or they think all we do is make wills, prepare power-of attorney letters and help with taxes." said Swaim. "We do those things too, but Family law assistance is one of our larger services rendered, and a lot of people need that service." he added.
"We're always mindful and focused on how we can effect Soldier readiness. For instance, a service member who has legal issues, whether back home or OCONUS--such as divorce, child custody, or financial problems--isn't likely to be fully focused on his mission here in Ansbach. The issues he's facing can make things seem extremely overwhelming, and we can help Soldiers get back on the right track."
"The most important thing to remember when confronted with a legal problem is that you are not alone." said Swaim, "The legal assistance office is always here to help."
ABOUT THE USAG ANSBACH LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
The Ansbach community the Legal Assistance Office offers assistance five days a week. Scheduling an appointment is highly recommended, but assistance to walk-in clients is provided for emergency situations. Assistance is provided to eligible clients, including Active Duty, Retired, DoD Civilian and their dependents with military ID cards, and to certain mobilized Reserve and National Guard, and their dependents. The LAO prepares or reviews legal documents including, but not limited to: wills, powers of attorney, living wills, healthcare powers of attorney, rental and other financial documents, simple affidavits, adoption proceedings, and separation agreements.
The LAO assists with legal issues regarding child support, fair credit reporting, debt collection, bankruptcy, identity theft, German landlord relations and leases and the preparation and review of petitions to the Army Review Boards Agency, rebuttal statements or appeals for FLIPLs, officer evaluation reports, Officer or NCO evaluation reports, administrative reprimands, or other documents in connection with other military administrative actions.
The U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach Legal Assistance Office is located on the third floor in building 5817 on Katterbach Kaserne and is open Mondays through Thursdays from 9 to 11:45 a.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m. Open Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m. Closed weekends and U.S federal holidays. To make an appointment call DSN: 467-2103 or CIV. 09802-83-2103.
ABOUT THE U.S. ARMY COMMUNITY IN ANSBACH
The U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach (USAG Ansbach) military community is located in the Franconian region of Bavaria and is spread across six sites and nine kasernes dispersed around the city of Ansbach and the village of Illesheim: Barton Barracks, Bismarck Kaserne, Bleidorn Kaserne, Franken Kaserne, Katterbach Kaserne, Oberdachstetten Training Area, Shipton Kaserne, Storck Barracks, and Urlas Kaserne. Today, Ansbach is the home of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade (12th CAB), the community's largest tenant unit. USAG Ansbach continues its mission of streamlining base support operations management, allowing tactical commanders to concentrate on their essential training and missions. The garrison takes pride in its support to more than 6,000 Soldiers, civilians, and family members, working and living within the USAG Ansbach area.
To learn more about the people and facilities of the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach (USAG Ansbach) and the people they support in Ansbach, Katterbach and Illesheim, visit the community website at www.ansbach.army.mil.