Story by Natalie Morehouse on 08/22/2019The Navy's Disability Evaluation System Counsel Program (DESCP) hosted the first-ever Joint Service DESCP Annual Training and Certification Course at Lackland Air Force Base, July 15-18. Nearly 200 practitioners from all branches of service attended this milestone event, which was planned and staffed by JAG community personnel.
"The information we learned at this critical training course will help us better serve our nation's wounded warriors," said Capt. David Gonzalez, director of Legal Assistance at the Office of the Judge Advocate General. "We could not be more pleased about the turnout from and execution of these four days of learning."
During the training course, attendees learned about differences among the services regarding case processing and adjudication, and also shared best practices to enhance advocacy on behalf of wounded, ill, or injured service members. Remarks from the Army JAG, Lt. Gen. Charles N. Pede were among the highlights of the event.
Other course presenters hailed from Office of the Secretary of Defense (Health Services and Oversight), the Department of Veterans Affairs, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, pro bono groups, law school clinics for veterans, and the medical community. Speakers participated in panel discussions about Physical Evaluation Boards (PEB), the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, and PEB appellate authorities. Ample networking opportunities ensured DES experts made vital connections with one another.
"There was so much collective expertise in the room," said Adrian Rowe, a Navy DESCP attorney. "It was a privilege to listen to questions and the ensuing discussions it was truly a DES masterclass!"
"It was an absolutely worthwhile event. Despite having worked on thousands of cases, I learned on-point, helpful information throughout each day of the conference," he added.
The event would not have been possible without the careful planning and tremendous support of Navy JAG community personnel, particularly those in Legal Assistance, the JAG Consolidated Administrative Business, and Fiscal and Resource Services. Planning for the 2020 DESCP Annual Training and Certification Course is already underway.
Caring for wounded, ill, and injured service members is a top Defense Department priority. Providing legal representation during the DES process guarantees wounded, ill, and injured service members and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled while also enhancing military readiness.
Attorneys employed in the services' DESCPs are the foremost experts in this practice area. The Navy's team of DES counselors assist more than 8,000 Sailors and Marines each year.