Sunday, September 19, 2010

A National Disgrace: Insurance Companies Profiting On Soldiers' Death Benefits

One of the most moving experiences in my life was attending an internment service at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia to honor Lt. Mark Dooley who was killed while serving our nation in Iraq.

This profound experience is documented in my article Sacred Honor: Police Officer, Soldier, Patriot and in my book Listen To Their Cries:

On Friday July 13, 2007, I was privileged to attend the full military interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery of Army 1st Lt. Mark H. Dooley, 27, who was killed in Iraq on September 19, 2005. Lt. Mark Dooley was from Wallkill, New York and was assigned to the 3d Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), 42nd Infantry Division, Vermont Army National Guard, Jericho, Vermont. Mark would have celebrated his 29th birthday on Sunday, July 15, 2007, a day after his remains were honored at Arlington.

I was invited to this solemn event by his parents, Marion and Peter Dooley. I met Marion Dooley at a school violence prevention presentation for the Wallkill School District in New York on November 22, 2006. Because I honor American Military personnel at each of my presentations, Marion shared with me the story of her military sons.

The ceremony was profoundly inspirational thanks to the devotion and presence of his parents, his brother Charlie – who also serves in the U.S. Army – and the many family members, friends, educators and military personnel (including the honor guard) who came to honor Mark Dooley and remember him as a man of commitment, courage and patriotism. Although there are many vignettes that can be used to capture the event, I will never forget the expressive faces of those who honored Mark and the "clip-clop" of horse hooves in soothing cadence as they transported the caisson that carried Mark's remains. It was the perfect orchestration of nature and emotions during the one mile procession to Marks final resting place, as though even the horses understood, honored and sympathized with the gravity of the interment.

Based on not only this experience, but on a life long admiration for all who serve our nation's military, I am particularly appalled because of a recent story posted on MSNBC titled Making a profit on soldiers' death benefits. The story presents a reprehensible scenario that large insurance companies are profiting from billions of dollars they hold on behalf of the families of fallen military service members. Some of the articles insights include:

  • 100 carriers that use retained-asset accounts to earn income on the $28 billion owed to beneficiaries
  • Planning by insurance companies with beneficiaries that as an alternative to a lump-sum payment, they leave the bulk of the policy with the carriers
  • Carriers, meanwhile, invest the money, obtaining a far higher return than what they offer to beneficiaries. Families often receive misleading guarantees on the accounts which are not in federally insured banks

All who serve in our nations military to insure the freedoms and liberties that we enjoy deserve the greatest honor, especially those who have fallen and offered the ultimate sacrifice. Companies who profit through misleading scenarios that prey on the victims' families are to be held accountable. Government leaders should proceed with full force legislative actions that address this insult not only to fallen service members and their families but to the very character of our nation.


Lt Mark H. Dooley 5K Race Click here to visit site
Sacred Honor: Police Officer, Soldier, Patriot Click here to visit site
Making a profit on soldiers death benefits Click here to visit site

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