FORT RILEY, Kan. " The Office of the Staff Judge Advocate recently won several awards, including the Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence and the Judge Advocate General’s Award for Excellence in Claims. The Fort Riley Tax Center also has been honored for saving money for those they served.

“The Fort Riley SJA office is a dedicated group of military and civilian legal professionals that provide the full range of legal support to the 1st Infantry Division of Fort Riley command and staff, Soldiers and Family members. These awards are simply a validation of what I have always known " this is one of the finest groups of legal professionals in the Army,” said Harry Hardy Jr., chief, Administrative and Civil Law Division Office, OSJA.

Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence

The Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence is a “competitive annual award evaluating legal assistance here and overseas,” said Matt Shelton, chief, Legal Assistance Division, OSJA. The award is based on performance of the entire office and is categorized by base size, Shelton said. Fort Riley falls into the large base category and received the award for the third year in a row.

“We’re very honored to win it, and it is a testament to the military and civilian attorneys, as well as the paralegals,” Shelton said.

For legal-assistance-related questions, call 785-239-3117.

JAG Award for Excellence in Claims

For the sixth year in a row, the Fort Riley Claims Office received the JAG’s Excellence in Claims Award.

“Only three Army installations with full-service Army claims offices worldwide can claim this achievement,” said Jeffrey Fleming, chief, Claims Division, OSJA. “(Fort) Riley is the only division-level post among those three to receive this prestigious award.”

The claims office services Soldiers and the Army. For Soldiers, the claims office “pioneered an initiative to ensure Soldiers are well-versed on their rights to reimbursement on losses from household goods moves, which has been lauded across the Army as the gold standard,” Fleming said.

The claims office also pursues recovery from insurance companies for medical care provided to Soldiers, retirees and Family members stemming from accidents, Fleming said, with an average recovery of more than $750,000 per year over the last five years.

“These monies are deposited directly to Irwin Army Community Hospital to enhance patient care and to Tricare to help fund future civilian-based medical care,” he said.

For the Army, OSJA works with the Department of Justice “to defend negligence-based claims brought against the Army in federal court seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages,” Fleming said.

The award for 2010 was received in April 2011.

For claims-related questions, call 785-239-3830.

Tax Center

The Tax Center returned about $17 million in refunds to the Fort Riley community, while filing more than 11,000 total tax returns for 2010, saving more than $1.6 million in tax preparation and filing fees, according to Shelton.

“The Fort Riley tax center is recognized as one of the best in (Forces Command) and maintains one of the lowest rejected return rates … within this region,” Shelton said.

For tax-related questions, call 785-239-3117.

Expanded Legal Assistance Program

“One of the reasons we won the Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence, I think, is our Expanded Legal Assistance Program,” Shelton said.

ELAP is “regularly lauded,” and is “noted during our Article 6 visits,” he said.
“Fort Riley is one of the few legal assistance programs that provide in-court representation in divorce matters,” Shelton said. “The ELAP program assists Soldiers, in the rank of E-4 and below and without children or major assets to divide, obtain uncontested divorces without paying attorney fees.”

For more information, call 785-239-3117 or visit www.facebook/1IDlegal.