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Attention Purchasers of Pioneer American Life Insurance Policies at Camp Pendleton During 2003

A recent investigation conducted by the Camp Pendleton Staff Judge Advocate concluded that last year, certain agents of the Pioneer American Insurance Company violated various Department of Defense regulations by identifying themselves as disinterested financial advisors as they solicited business on behalf of Pioneer, and by misrepresenting the life insurance policies they sold as other types of financial products. As many as 500 active duty and reserve Marines may have purchased Pioneer policies at Camp Pendleton during the period of the investigation.

Based upon the investigation, Pioneer has agreed to refund, upon request, all monies it received for policies that were sold to Marines at Camp Pendleton from March 2003 through December 2003. Marines who purchased a policy during that timeframe may receive a refund provided that the policy has not lapsed for non-payment and that a notice of cancellation is submitted to Pioneer no later than 8 June 2004. Note that this 120-day period will be suspended for an equal number of days that a Marine is deployed outside the United States. For example, if you begin a deployment outside the United States on 9 March 2004, you will have 91 days to request a refund to Pioneer from the date you return to the United States (21 days less the 120-day period). An overseas PCS assignment, for example to Okinawa Japan other than for UDP, would not qualify as a deployment. If already in a period of deployment, Marines should continue to make payments on their policies, and take appropriate action on this matter upon their return to the United States.

Upon sending the notice to Pioneer and obtaining confirmation of receipt, Marines may discontinue paying the premiums on their Pioneer policies. Thereafter, Pioneer will attempt to refund, within 30 days of receipt of the notice, all monies paid under the policy. Unless you are deployed outside the United States, you have until June 8, 2004 to fax the notice of cancellation letter to Pioneer American Insurance Company.

For more details and the necessary form to fill out, click here.

The USMC Staff Judge Advocate has also put together a helpful primer regarding life insurance, covering some of the more common deceptive sales tactics and arming you with some fo the information necessary to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of insurance fraud. Click here to access this primer. [Source: USMC Staff Judge Advocate Legal Assistance]

Changes to Leave and Earnings Statement to Reduce Identy Theft

Leave and Earning Statements for all service members and Defense Department civilians, and paychecks for military retirees will soon have more protection over identity theft. Over the next several weeks, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service will drop the first five digits of a person's social security number from all pay statements and checks to guard against identity theft.

"The changes apply to everyone," said Patrick T. Shine, acting director Defense Finance and Accounting Service. The proposal "originated internally and will be phased in over the next couple of pay periods." Reports of identity theft have substantially increased in recent years, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which monitors the issue.

This change is to be for all hard copy leave and earning statements. This does not apply to electronic copies of statements found on myPay, the online system for access and control of customers personal pay information (

Five years ago, the number of complaints to the FTC was roughly 23,400. By 2001, the rate had more than tripled to about 86,200. Based on figures released in January 2004, the number of complaints of identity theft nearly topped 215,000 for 2003. The Social Security Administration also has taken the same step of eliminating the first five social security numbers on the millions of checks it issues.

For more from the DFAS, visit [Source: Division of Public Affairs Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps]

Commandant Appoints Independent Panel Regarding Lejeune Water Contamination

The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Mike Hagee, has convened an independent panel to review the events at Camp Lejeune between 1980 and 1985, that pertain to the decision to close several wells which supplied drinking water to portions of the base.

"We are deeply concerned about the health issues raised by members of our Marine Corps family and are working diligently to ensure that anyone affected during this period and beyond is well cared for," said Gen. Hagee. "Marines take care of each other on the battlefield and in garrison and this case is no different. A Marine is a Marine for life."

Evidence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in some of the base’s drinking water was first discovered in 1980. The source of the VOCs was not known at the time. In 1984, Camp Lejeune learned that the volatile organic compounds, or VOCs affected some wells, and that all of the impacted wells were closed by 1985. Since 1999, the Marine Corps has supported a study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to determine if there is a link between VOCs found in some of the drinking water, and certain childhood illnesses.

"The circumstances surrounding the Camp Lejeune water contamination issue involve numerous decisions and documents that span more than 20 years," said Gen. Hagee. "It is incumbent upon us to seek answers to relevant and appropriate questions from any available documentation and interviews with former officials. Informing and supporting our Marine families remains our top priority, and we must do better to convey this through decisive action and forthright communication. The convening of this independent panel is an important step in accomplishing that objective."

The panel will be comprised of three private sector professionals with expertise in environmental, engineering and military command issues. The three-member panel will spend the next six months reviewing any available and pertinent documents, and interviewing past and present base officials. This will be done to clarify the sequence of events that led to the decisions made during the five-year period in question. The panel will operate independently and will have free and open access to all relevant information. The panel will not impact the work of the ongoing ATSDR study.

A report of the panel's findings will be submitted to the Commandant by 1 September 2004.

"After reviewing the report, I will make every effort to conclude this matter in a way that is satisfactory to our Marines, their families and the general public," said Gen. Hagee. "The report and any resultant actions will be provided to the families, Congress and the general public as soon as practical."

"The panel is being convened to gather facts for the purpose of informing our Marines and their families who could have been affected," said Gen. Hagee. "Continued questions from interested families and other parties, prompted us to examine the chronology of events with more scrutiny. In the course of this deeper examination, we realized additional facts needed to be acquired and reviewed. We must leave no stone unturned on this important issue." "We think an independent panel, focused on that defined purpose, is the best way to effectively and expeditiously review this situation," Hagee said. [Source: Headquarters Marine Corps Public Affairs]

Semper Fidelis!

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