I serve part time as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the Maryland Army National Guard. I recently received orders to be activated for federal active duty and will be deploying to the Middle East region for approximately one year starting in January. With about a month remaining before I transition from part time to full time JAG, I am preparing myself to be away for a year.
I have separated my preparation for deployment into three separate categories: 1) personal 2) business and 3) military. In these types of situations, checklists are very helpful.
My preparation on a personal level includes making sure that my will, power of attorney, advance medical directive and other estate planning documents are either drafted or updated. I need to make sure that my wife has access and knows where to find important documents such as title to a vehicle, deed to a home, insurance documents, medical records and anything else she may need to access in my absence. I will need to make sure that all the finances and bills that I am generally responsible are being paid. I also need to set aside time to spend with friends and family before I leave.
I also have my own legal practice to consider. I recently notified all of my clients that I will be deploying and am in the process of filing my motions to withdraw from the cases I am currently entered. For cases that are ongoing, I have offered to help transition those clients to another successor attorney of their choosing. I am also trying to implement processes and systems in place that will hopefully help to keep the practice going in my absence. As I have learned from speaking to other National Guard soldiers, maintaining a small business while deployed is very difficult. I am hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.
Last, but certainly not least, I have much preparation to do for my military obligations. I need to make sure that all of my administrative paperwork is correct for health care, pay and beneficiary benefits in the event of my death. I also have a number of trainings and classes that need to be completed prior to the deployment. I am also gathering and packing my military gear.
I am sure there is much that I either did not mention or have not yet thought to do before my departure. I plan to continue publishing my blog articles and sharing with all of you my experiences as a young attorney with a small firm deployed as an Army JAG.