The Claims Division of the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Aviation and Missile Command has a lot to be happy about. In addition to the renovations that changed the look of the place in September, they'll soon have a new treasure to hang on the freshly painted walls. They have been awarded the Judge Advocate General's Excellence in Claims Award for fiscal year 2008.

Of the 51 claims offices that applied for consideration, only 30 offices will actually receive it this year. The judging is done by committee which scrutinized each applicant on several criteria, including how the office has performed as a whole for the fiscal year.

"There are a lot of standards to meet," Erika McPherson, Claims Division chief, said. "They also monitor the claims you process, your staff training level and other factors."

The last time Redstone's claims office brought home this award was in 2004. It was something they were determined to earn again.

"Last year we made the final pool, but not the award list," McPherson said. "This year we were confident that we had met the standards, but you still never know if you'll get the award."
With new changes in policy and procedure on top of the normal workload, it wasn't easy.

"With the new programs it was hard," Wyketa Watkins, carrier recovery claims adjudicator, said. "We needed to make sure that servicemembers had the information and service they needed. We're a very tight-knit group here, so we did this as a team."

They received word that they were named among the offices that had gone beyond meeting regulations to provide exceptional claims service just four weeks ago. They are looking forward to the arrival of the actual award this summer so they can display it proudly.

"The staff here is wonderful and they deserve this award," McPherson said. "There is over 50 years of combined claims experience here. Every one of them is excellent and that makes for an excellent office."