For the third year in a row, the Presidio of Monterey’s Legal Assistance Office has received the Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence in Legal Assistance in the active Army, medium office category. A total of nine Army offices received the award in this category for fiscal year 2010.

In Fiscal Year 2010, legal assistance was provided to 5,300 clients. These services include family law, estate planning, landlord-tenant issues, identity theft, credit issues, and many others.

According to Darwin Strickland, POM Legal Services attorney, the high volume of clients is a result of no other legal assistance office within 120 miles. The office serves a client base population of more than 36,000 to include personnel assigned to DLIFLC & POM, Naval Postgraduate School, Fleet Numerical Meteorological Oceanographic Center, Fort Hunter Liggett, and Camp Roberts.

Always a popular program, the POM Tax Center produced over 1,200 federal and 800 state returns for 2010. This saved military members over $350,000 in tax preparation and filing fees and created over $3.4 million dollars in refunds. All while clients seeking POM tax assistance have increased 37% over the last three years.

Another major effort by Legal Assistance, the Preventive Law Program, ensures that a student’s legal problems are handled efficiently and with minimal disruption to the student’s learning efforts. This Program includes hard-hitting financial and debt management briefings, newspaper articles, Web pages, Facebook, handouts, and counseling.

In order to make the Preventive Law Program a success, the office aggressively publicizes the program and educates leadership on its merits according to Dave Riddle, Legal Services chief. “The Program’s success reduces the time, aggravation, and expense of a variety of legal issues, thus reducing the time students are absent from class,” said Riddle.

Additionally, the office routinely offers weekend appointments, after-hour appointment, and mobile legal assistance at the PX, Java Café, and dining facilities to perform basic legal assistance.

As if on cue, there is a Saturday legal assistance opportunity tomorrow, July 16 at Building 275 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Just another reason the POM Legal Assistance Office is one of the best in the Army. Looks like POM Legal Assistance is well on its way to making it four years in a row.