21st TSC wins five Army legal service awards

by Staff Sgt. Warren W. Wright, Jr.
21st TSC Public Affairs

Four 21st Theater Sustainment Command legal service centers won five Army-level awards for excellence in claims and legal assistance for fiscal year 2011.

Maj. Gen. Aundre F. Piggee, the commanding general of the 21st TSC, presented plaques to representatives of the  centers during a ceremony on Kleber Kaserne Feb. 1.

This marks the 11th year straight a 21st TSC law center has been recognized for distinction in legal assistance. The 21st TSC won three of five legal assistance awards and two of four claims awards in Europe, marking the sixth consecutive year the 21st TSC has won a majority of the Army-level client-services awards in Europe.

Each year, Army legal offices compete for the Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence in Legal Assistance and the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army Award for Excellence in Claims.

“This is an enormous command, and the challenges of supporting a footprint as large as ours is a big challenge. Our people work very hard at taking care of our Soldiers and our families,” said Stephen W. Smith, the senior civilian attorney for the 21st TSC, and a native of Hershey, Pa. “When the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Judge Advocate General recognize them as being among the best in their field, we thought it was important to give our own commanding general the opportunity to echo that sentiment here today and to pass on his own congratulations.”

The Kaiserslautern Legal Services Center was awarded both the Judge Advocate General award for excellence in claims as well as the Army Chief of Staff award for excellence in legal assistance, while the Stuttgart Law Center earned an award for excellence in claims.

“Our ability to do well each year means we have great employees dedicated to the mission of Army Legal Assistance,” said Mark Christensen, the chief of client services at the Kaiserslautern Legal Services Center and a native of Cadott, Wisc.

“I enjoy working with these folks who agree that our clients are the most deserving in the world, the U.S. Soldiers and their family members who sacrifice and suffer more than most non-military citizens will know.” Also earning awards were the Netherlands Law Center and the Belgium-based Northern Law Center for excellence in legal assistance.

“Taking care of Soldiers is what we’re all about. We do that on a daily basis,” said Smith.  “We get so involved in the day-to-day rendering of legal services that sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the remarkable work that our folks do. These ceremonies provide an opportunity to take a pause from our daily activity and put it all in perspective.”

“We take enormous pride in the accomplishments of our claims and legal assistance personnel, not only here in Kaiserslautern, but also in our outlying offices,” said Smith.  “They’re the best in the business.”

“Each one of us is prepared to go as far as we need to insure that each client gets the attention and time necessary to address and hopefully resolve their legal situation,” added Christensen.  “Every work day is another challenge, and to keep doing it so well requires that everyone enjoy the job, mission and focus and bring that attitude to each new person who walks in the door.”