Story by Sgt. Darryl Montgomery
U.S. Army Reserve Command
FORT McCOY, Wis. – Paralegal soldiers from throughout the U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard came together at Fort McCoy, Wis., to conduct the 2013 Paralegal Warrior Training Course from July 12 to July 26.
The course, which includes classroom and tactical training, is designed to help soldiers refresh the paralegal skills they may not frequently use in their day-to-day military occupation.
“I don’t do anything paralegal related in my unit,” said Spc. Stephanie Hart, paralegal, 118th Military Police Battalion, Rhode Island National Guard. “I do more admin related stuff, so this course has really helped refreshed my memory from when I was in [Advanced Individual Training].”
The annual course, organized by the United States Army Reserve Command Staff Judge Advocate Office, is centered around keeping the students up-to-date on the changes frequently happening in the legal field of the military, said Sgt. Maj. David Becker, the command paralegal for the U.S. Army Reserve.
The course, now in its 17th iteration, continues to improve each year.
“Every year, we have built upon it to make it better for the students attending,” said Becker, a Bismarck, N.D., native. “It has traditionally been more classroom training, but over the past few years, we are trying to give them everything they need to be successful not only with the technical skills, but also develop their operational skills as well.”
Staff Sgt. Alex Ushomirsky, paralegal, 153rd Legal Operations Detachment, has attended the course twice and he agrees with Becker on the improvements.
“Before, it was more classroom focused,” he said. “We still went to the field and did some tactical training, but nothing like we did this year. This year, it was way above and beyond my expectations.”
This year, the students spent 36-hours in the field conducting tactical operations, including squad movements, urban operations, and medical evacuation training involving an actual MEDEVAC helicopter flying in to add realism to the training.
“Although the field training was hard this year, it was good. The inclusion of the helicopter for the MEDEVAC training was great,” Ushomirsky, a Philadelphia resident added.
Hart, a West Warwick, R.I., resident, said the training wasn’t what she was expecting before she arrived.
“I thought we were going to do a lot more classroom learning and less [physical training], hands-on and field training,” she said. “But, I really liked the field portion. I like doing tactical movements and battle drills.”
The students also conducted mock administrative separation boards and Article 15 hearings, allowing the soldiers to properly conduct proceedings they are likely to see in the legal field, said Master Sgt. Steve Minyard, the director of this year’s PWTC and Duncanville, Texas, native.
Spc. Edward Yi, paralegal, 300th Sustainment Brigade, said he has experience participating in administrative boards from his active duty service and felt the mock boards were accurate training.
“It was awesome,” the Rowlett, Texas, resident, said. “I think given the amount of time we had to prepare for the boards, we did really well and that our case would have won in a real-world situation.”
While Yi has experience with administrative boards, Staff Sgt. Joe Myers, paralegal, 8th LOD said he has little because his job as a paralegal is centered on more administrative areas.
“It was nice to experience the process,” Myers, a Wichita, Kan., resident, said. “I don’t get much experience on the board portion of the job, so I can definitely see this training being useful. I feel more confident now and feel I have a good starting block for future boards I might have to participate in.”
“There are so many different aspects of being an Army paralegal, so you never truly get to do it all at the same time,” Ushomirsky added. “This course gives you the chance to do all the other stuff you wouldn’t otherwise get to.”
Ushomirsky urges paralegal soldiers in the Reserve and National Guard to attend the PWTC as soon as possible saying, future students will leave with more knowledge and capability.
“I strongly recommend you come here, it is a great course and the instructors provide great training,” he said. “When you do this training, you will not only be prepared to continue your career as a paralegal, but you will be more prepared for the [Advanced Leader Course] and [Senior Leader Course] allowing you to further your career in this field.”