July 16, 2015 –
FORT MCCOY, Wis. – The 2015 Paralegal Warrior Training Course kicked off July 11 with paralegals from throughout the U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard coming together for the 14-day exercise here.
The PWTC is a two-week course held at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, each July and is designed and developed out of the U.S. Army Reserve Command headquarters in coordination with the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School to be a military occupation specialty refresher course specifically aimed at the paralegals of the Reserve and Guard forces.
Skills learned during the two week course include military justice, administrative separations, adverse administrative actions, and operational law with claims. Students will not only receive classroom instruction throughout the time they spend here, but they will also be given the opportunity to put their knowledge to the test during a three-day field training exercise shortly before graduating.
Master Sgt. Mike Waskewich, chief paralegal noncommissioned officer, 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, and Brookville, Indiana, native said, “We generate topics specifically for the Soldiers of the Army Reserve and National Guard.”
“To our knowledge,” he continued, “there is nowhere else in the Army, or the Department of Defense, that we are aware of that does anything similar for the reserve and guard forces out there.”
Waskewich is passionate about the course, explaining, “This course needs to continue to happen because the Army Reserve has to take ownership of the things they need to train on, and this is one centralized way of providing that training. In addition to being a school that provides all of these things, it also provides these Soldiers the ability to network and expand communication across the reserve and guard forces.”
The networking and communication Soldiers will gain here is important, he says, because the peers the students meet here are going to be the peers they can call upon for assistance when they need guidance after leaving Fort McCoy.
“It’s a great training environment to be in – especially with all the experienced Soldiers and senior NCOs, because it has allowed me talk to them and tap into their knowledge and experience,” said Baltimore, Maryland, resident Pfc. Capri Gaines, paralegal, 151st Legal Operations Detachment.
Sgt. 1st Class Thomas W. Thomas, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Tennessee Valley Region, 154th Legal Operations Detachment (Trial Defense Service), stated, “I want to help them think it through and them be able to know how to use the regulations to find what they need because they won’t always have the Internet to rely on. They may deploy and be the only paralegal on their forward operating base, and they’ll need to know how to find the answer or regulation they need.”
In addition to meeting fellow paralegals and having the ability to network, Soldiers will also have the opportunity to increase their confidence and improve their skills while they are here.
“This course provides the ability for these paralegals to build confidence in their ability to help guide their commanders by being able to find the correct regulations and right answers when necessary,” Waskewich said. “It gives them the confidence to find the information they need say without doubt to their commanders, ‘Yes, sir, I know that.’”
“I thought that as a reserve paralegal I knew a lot,” said Sgt. Corina M. Wynn, Fort Stewart team NCOIC, 12th Legal Operations Detachment. “I really did not think I was going to come here and learn anything, but, I have learned so much in the last few days.”
“I think in the future I am going to get all of my Soldiers to come here. I think it would be a great experience for them,” Corina, a Richmond Hill, Georgia, resident said.
Soldiers who graduate from the PWTC are encouraged to return to their unit and share the knowledge they gained during their two weeks at Fort McCoy to further that seed of information throughout the Army Reserve and National Guard.
While the knowledge gained here is invaluable, it does take the cadre coming here to teach to allow the course to happen.
“This course is only able to run because of the voluntary cadre that come. We always have that need for anyone who wants to step-up and volunteer to teach,” Waskewich said. “Everyone one of the cadre here has a second job outside of this that they are having to stay on top of while they are here teaching. They all are sacrificing something in order to be here and make this course possible.”
Soldiers who may be interested in attending the PWTC here in the future need to go through their training NCO or their chief paralegal NCO to be put into the Army Training Requirements and Resources System (ATRRS) for the course. Registration for the course usually opens at the start of the fiscal year and anyone interested in being a student is urged to register as soon as possible. For anyone interested as attending as a cadre member, they are urged to contact Master Sgt. Mike Waskewich or Sgt. Maj. Denise Underwood.