Consumer complaints from Fort Bragg Soldiers and Families don’t fall on deaf ears. The Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board meets quarterly to discuss area businesses that may have bad business practices targeting the military population.
The AFDCB was established to “advise and make recommendations to commanders on matters concerning eliminating conditions, which may adversely affect the health, safety, welfare, morale and discipline of the Armed Forces,” according Army Regulation 190-24.
The board includes 16 members from across the installation, with the garrison commander serving as president. At each meeting, the board discusses the Off-Limits List, which is a compilation of facilities that have a history of issues such as gang activity, high crime rates, drug sales, prostitution and other similar activities.
“We aren’t creating a list just for the sake of creating a list,” said Col. Kyle Reed, Fort Bragg Garrison commander. “We want to make sure we are taking care of our Soldiers, but at the same time too we want to make sure we are reaching out to the community to give them due process.”
Businesses are nominated for inclusion on the list after consumer complaints to the Better Business Bureau, Fort Bragg’s Financial Readiness Program, Housing Services and law enforcement.
After nomination, the AFDCB sends a letter of notification or warning letter to the business informing them of the issues found by Fort Bragg or the community.
If the facility has not changed their business practices by the next meeting, they will receive a letter of invitation asking them to attend the next AFDCB meeting and present their case. A business may be placed on the off-limits list if they choose not to attend and/or have not made changes to improve their business practices.
Reed said it is important for Fort Bragg and surrounding communities to work together throughout the AFDCB process.
“The linkage between us and the surrounding communities is key because they see things that we don’t see and we see things they don’t see, so the communication of shared interests is huge here,” he explained. “We have points of data; they add context to those points.”
Young Fort Bragg Soldiers will always be out in the surrounding communities, Reed said, so it is imperative to create a set of guidelines by which they can abide.
“They’re going to try to experience things and it is a world where some of this is unacceptable, but in some cultures it is acceptable. As they get indoctrinated into our culture, it is not (acceptable), so we need to set the path for them to be successful versus reactionary in nature when they actually get involved in a situation where they can’t adjust,” he said.
Creating a safe environment for the Fort Bragg community cannot happen without involvement from Soldiers and Family members, said Lynn Olavarria, FRP manager. When they have an issue with a local business, after they have tried to resolve it themselves, the Soldier or Family member should schedule an appointment with the FRP to file a consumer complaint.
Olavarria said any time a member of the community has received unfair business practices, they can file a complaint. She recommended bringing substantiating documents and a military ID to the appointment. All those interested in filing a consumer complaint must be prepared to complete a statement as well.
It is essential for anyone who receives bad treatment to report it, Olavarria emphasized.
“If there is a trend going on and someone is taking advantage of our military community, our Soldiers, our Family members, our civilians, we want to identify it immediately so that we can get a handle on it and get it corrected. Sometimes it could be something the agency just doesn’t know they’re doing wrong.”
Overall, Olavarria and Reed stressed the importance of cognizance when out and about in the areas surrounding Fort Bragg.
“Everybody’s upstanding but every now and then you might run into somebody who might do something that’s unfair,” Olavarria said. “It doesn’t happen as an epidemic, but it’s just like any large city — you have to be aware of what’s going on.”
To file a consumer complaint, contact Fort Bragg’s FRP at 907-3670 or 396-2507. Families can contact the Better Business Bureau through their website, but they should also file a complaint with FRP for tracking purposes.