Off-limits establishments are off-limits for your benefit

2 Jul 2005 | Pfc. Adam Johnston

Rules.  Most would agree they exist to ensure our safety.  Others say they are meant to be broken.  Marines, who can be known for their high level of confidence, often feel they can handle any situation that comes their way.  Nevertheless, regardless of perception, restrictions such as the off-limits establishments list are in place to protect Marines from themselves as well as others.

An off-limits area is defined as any business, building, place, structure, vehicle, conveyance or area, which military personnel are prohibited to patronize, enter, visit, use or ride, according to Capt. Melvin T. Wooding Jr., the operations officer for the Command Inspector’s Office.

The Command Inspector’s Office is responsible for monitoring the business practices of establishments both on and off base, said Wooding.

“We watch over the Marines, as well as all civilian personnel aboard Camp Lejeune, to make sure they aren’t being taken advantage of,” said Wooding.

Business can be placed on the list for a number of reasons; anything from price gauging and poor workmanship to illegal drug and/or prostitution rings on the premises.

“One thing to keep an eye out for is businesses changing the name of their establishment.  The owners may think they’re fooling the system, but the catch-all is the address.  Unless the building is physically moved from its foundation to another location, it’s still off-limits,” said Wooding.

Before the Command Inspector’s office is notified, complaints are initially filed with the civil law department in the Staff Judge Advocate’s office.  1st Lt. Siddhartha M. Velandy, an attorney with SJA, Marine Corps Base, has been involved in the process for six months.

“Our job in this whole affair is to gather the facts.  After conducting a thorough investigation, we compile our findings and present them to the president of the board,” said Velandy.

The Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board, which meets quarterly, is made up of representatives from the major units here.  It’s mission is to advise and make recommendations to the base Commanding General concerning the correction of conditions which may adversely affect the health, safety, morals, morale, welfare or discipline of military personnel.

“Once the board members have voted on the issue, their recommendation is then passed onto the (commanding general).  In the end, the decision is up to him,” said Wooding.

If the commanding general decides to make an establishment off limits, the responsibility ultimately falls upon the individual Marines as to whether or not they choose to police themselves, said Wooding.  If they’re found to be frequenting an establishment on the list, they can be charged with disobeying a direct order.

If you or anyone you know has been deceived by questionable business practices, you can file a claim with civil law in Building 66 on Holcomb Blvd.

“The sooner you seek legal assistance, the better.  Any situation is fixable,” said Velandy.