FORT LEE, Va. – The Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board here reminds service members that 10 establishments in the Central Virginia area are off-limits to them.
They include the Golden Express Gas Station, Hopewell, which neighbors Fort Lee. The remaining nine businesses are on the peninsula and were banned by the Joint Base Langley-Eustis and Navy Regional Command, Hampton Roads AFDCBs.
Sgt. Maj. Chad Laws, Directorate of Emergency Services SGM, noted the purpose of restricting personnel from questionable establishments is to eliminate conditions that adversely affect the health, safety, welfare, morale and discipline of service members.
Placing a business off limits is not an automatic or random decision, he emphasized, and owners are given opportunities to correct issues to avoid placement on the list.
Area police departments hold a monthly meeting where they discuss problems that are occurring at local establishments and a representative from the Fort Lee DES attends each session. Anytime it’s determined that military members frequent the business and could be harmed by questionable activities, an investigation is opened to review evidence and gather additional details from sources such as the Better Business Bureau.
The Fort Lee AFDCB meets quarterly and is made up of unit and community leaders from the installation. The sessions give command team representatives an opportunity to discuss concerns as the board reviews the findings of the investigation and any corrective measures. The group then votes on whether to proceed with banning the establishment.
“For the initial meeting,” Laws clarified, “business owners are not invited because it’s a discussion of what’s going on and the potential harm it poses to our personnel.”
The next step is to notify business owners about the problematic issues occurring and invite them to the following meeting where a vote will be cast.
“When you’re going to make that decision of whether or not to put their business on this list, you have to be fair to them,” Laws pointed out. “The notification doesn’t always mean they’ll attend the next meeting, but it gives them time to correct whatever (negative activities that were called into question). We’ve had many instances … when the owner comes in (to the follow-up meeting) and says, ‘yep, we identified the problem and corrected it already.’
“We recently had a business (flagged) by the Hopewell Police Department,” Laws continued. “When they initially brought it up, it was quickly determined that it might not be an issue in the future because of new ownership. This particular business was owned by a motorcycle gang, (and) the new owner has completely changed it, so problem resolved.”
Businesses that are not able to satisfy the concerns of the AFDCB are placed on the list and the owner is informed of the findings of the investigation and why the establishment is off-limits to service members.
“We let them know that we’ve looked at their establishment, and this is what we’ve found,” Laws said. “It gives them an opportunity to understand they have some things that need to change in order for Soldiers and their families to use their business.”
Service members are encouraged to report a business that they feel is targeting or discriminating against them because they are a member of the armed forces. “We want Soldiers to know they have a voice,” Laws said. “They can raise their concerns. This process is meant to help everyone.”
To report a business, service members can send an email to the DES Operations Officer Capt. Jessica Deaton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Just say I have an issue and here it is,” Laws said. “She will look through it. We’ll go do our visit of the business. Then we’ll sit down with the individual who made the complaint to ensure we fully understand what the concerns are.”
The next Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board meeting is scheduled for August.
The full list of off-limits businesses in the area is as follows:
• Golden express Gas Station, 100 S. 15th Ave., Hopewell, Va. 23860
• The Vault, Vape and Hookah Shop, 14535-B Warwick Blvd., Newport News, Va. 23601
• The Vault, Vape and Hookah Shop, 731 J. Clyde Marris Blvd., Suite B, Newport News, Va. 23601
• The Vault, Vape and Hookah Shop, 389 West 21st St., Norfolk, Va. 23518
• Mellow Smoke Tobacco Shop, 201 East Berkeley Ave., Suite C, Norfolk, Va. 23523
• Outer Edge Gifs, 760-B J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News, Va. 23601
• 7 City’s Custom & Design, also known as Envy Car Audio & Design, and Unique Auto Design, 1062 37th St. Norfolk, Va. 23508 and 117 Princess Anne Rd., Norfolk, Va. 23510
• Best Price Auto Sales, also known as U.S. Auto Excellence, 3336 Holland Rd., Virginia Beach, Va. 23452
• Prime Auto also known as Skyline Auto, 4114 East Indian River Rd., Chesapeake, Va. 23325
• Tyku Bar, 1910 Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach, Va. 23451