Dobbins JAG office helps Marines deploy on short notice

  • Published
  • By Andrew Park
  • 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. – In an effort to minimize the spread of coronavirus, many organizations are being forced to reexamine their operations and change the way they do business. Some are even starting to take on tasks they typically wouldn’t under normal circumstances. Offices here at Dobbins are no different.

This week, the Dobbins legal office helped more than 60 Marines with legal documents in preparation for a short-notice deployment to assist in the battle against COVID-19.

“We decided it was asking a lot, but we really couldn’t say no,” said Lt. Col. Justin Swick, 94th Airlift Wing staff judge advocate. “If they’re going to go forward and put themselves in harm’s way to stem the pandemic, the least we could do is give them the tools they need before they leave.”

Preparing legal documents is a multi-step process that can be labor intensive, said Swick. First, the member fills out a worksheet with important information such as beneficiary designation and other details to be included in legal documents such as wills or powers of attorney. The legal team then drafts the document and brings the member back in for a consultation to review the document. Finally, the member signs the document in front of witnesses and gets it notarized.

The legal office is no stranger to helping deployers get out the door. Last fall, the legal team helped nearly the same amount of Airmen with their legal documents. This is a first, however, as the legal office doesn’t normally prepare legal forms for the Marines, and under such a tight deadline.

“Back in the fall, we set aside pretty much a full week to get all of our deployers taken care of,” Swick said.

They’re now experiencing double the demand with only a fraction of the time they had before, he said.

Given the increased demand and limited staffing, Swick brought in reservists to help with the workload. Additionally, Chief Master Sgt. Vicki Robertson, 94th AW command chief, helped out by registering Marines as they arrived.

Once signed in, the Marines headed into the wing conference room where seats were set up six feet apart. They sat at the table and began filling out their worksheets.

The scene was a bit surreal. It resembled any other pre-deployment processing line except for the fact that everyone in the room was wearing face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The operation was seen as a success by all, as the Marines were given peace of mind before heading out the door to complete this all-too-important deployment.

“Hopefully these documents aren’t used in the near future, but it’s about peace of mind,” said Swick. “Whether they’re deploying to Afghanistan or New York City or California or wherever, you want them getting on the plane with the peace of mind that they’re taken care of and their families are taken care of; the only thing to worry about is the mission. So that’s why we do it.”

Although coronavirus has drastically changed the lives of many, one positive aspect is the new partnerships that form when finding ways to work around these new challenges.