STEWART ANGB, NEWBURGH, NY – 2016 AUG 12. Airmen of the 105th Airlift Wing Security Forces Squadron gather in classrooms. Each one has a black, USAA pre-deployment kit. In one room, sergeants and airmen alike joke and pass the time. In the other, the sound of papers rustling and muted chatter can be heard as those preparing to deploy speak with lawyers from the New York Guard. It’s a fairly somber mood as the airmen prepare last wills and powers of attorney to give to their loved ones before deployment.
While stoic in nature, this Legal Services Operation, or LSO for short, provides a much-needed service. Airmen are provided with free legal services to help make the deployment transition easier and to make sure their affairs are in order. Volunteer lawyers from the New York Guard provide a full range of services for deploying troops overseas. These operations usually run all day and involve anywhere from eight to 10 lawyers and several support staff members.
The officer-in-charge, or OIC, is MAJ Steven Hartov; commander of Task Force 105. As the liaison between the NYG and AW 105, he arranges rooms, times, and personnel for these operations. Full cooperation is given to him to prepare what he needs and to make sure the operation runs smoothly. The NCOIC, SSG Jim Masi, coordinates the roles of the support staff, who provide everything from witnesses for document executions to technical support staff for network operations.
During these operations, lines can sometimes form as airmen wait to get their documents executed. During these times, the support staff converses with the airmen to set their minds at ease. In stark contrast to the mood inside the room where documents are being prepared, the mood outside in the hallway is more jovial. YouTube videos are being shared and conversations about cross-branch jargon happen. Despite this, the serious nature of what is going on in the next room is not lost.
The New York Guard will be holding another LSO, for airmen that did not have a chance to prepare documents this time around, on 2016 SEP 10. While the soldiers from the NYG did process roughly 40 plus airmen through in one day, the number deploying is much larger. With the aid of the JAGs from the NYG, those that will be sent overseas will have greater peace of mind knowing that their affairs have been set in order and their loved ones will be taken care of.
Photos and story by SPC Matthew Gussow, New York Guard