19th AW legal team ensures safety, readies deployers

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kristine M. Gruwell
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- The 19th Airlift Wing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate worked with leadership at the 61st Airlift Squadron to provide drive-thru legal assistance for deployers April 30, 2020, in order to continue physical distancing while taking care of Airmen and their families.

“This drive-thru was created to assist our deployers in obtaining powers of attorney for family care plans while they’re deployed,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Heather Stopa, 61st Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules instructor loadmaster.

Typically when Airmen are ramping up to deploy, they will go through a pre-deployment function line as a group. Due to necessary physical distancing, the deployers are not able to come together and process through the line of helping agencies, so an alternative method was created for Airmen to experience continued support.

“Personal legal readiness for all military personnel is an important aspect in the service member’s overall preparedness to deploy,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Hawar Sabir, 19th AW assistant staff judge advocate. “Before a service member deploys, it’s critical they have their legal affairs in order because resolving legal issues while on deployment can pose unique challenges.”

This innovative service allows deploying Airmen to drive up to the legal assistance area where they may meet a legal professional to set up powers of attorney, among other items, from the safety of their vehicle.

“The heart of the legal assistance mission is to remove as many personal legal obstacles from service members so they can focus on the mission,” Sabir said. “This drive-thru legal service ensures service members can tackle personal legal concerns proactively and safely before deploying, thereby allowing them to achieve mission success while deployed.”

Maintaining preparedness and readiness has required adjustments from the 19th AW’s normal tactics during the battle against COVID-19, but the flexibility of Black Knights has solidified the capabilities of this community of Ready Warriors who are at the leading edge of operational excellence.

“Deployments are stressful enough without adding a Coronavirus pandemic,” Stopa said. “Creating these family care plans now eases the worry of the service member so they can focus on their deployed mission.”