“Soldiers risk life and limb for our nation and we recognize
their service in a solemn way and award them medals. The honor
becomes diminished when others are able to defraud the
government and military by obtaining medals they did not
actually earn. As a lawmaker, I support creating a system of
accountability that preserves the integrity of our military
medals and recognizes the bravery of our soldiers, sailors, and
REP. MARILYN MUSGRAVE, R-COLO (110th Congress)
VA Fraud $$s Recovered
As a nation, we owe it to our
wounded warriors to insure that they receive the Veterans Affairs
(VA) benefits and services they deserve. While such benefits are
far less than we OWE them, a VA Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
claim can net nearly $40,000 a year (tax free) in V.A. and S.S.I.
income. For those who have survived a horrible ordeal in answer to
the call of duty and become scarred for life, this is small
compensation. For a lazy con-man, it is a windfall.
At a time when wounded
warriors from the Global War on Terrorism are returning home with grievous
wounds and serious needs, PHONY veterans are draining the VA
coffers of millions of dollars in un-earned and un-deserved VA
benefits. Indeed as you will see from the information below, at a
time when REAL heroes are struggling to get what is owed them,
individuals who have never even served in the military are
bleeding the system of badly-needed funds based upon falsified
Almost any VA Case worker
will quickly verify that one of the problems in providing prompt
treatment and benefits to our wounded warriors is the bureaucratic
nightmare of trying to get a veteran's service records. Meanwhile,
unscrupulous individuals with a little forgery expertise or
computer skills find it a simple matter to provide the VA with
false documents that can net them tens of thousands of dollars.
I have estimated that the
cost of developing the digital database called for in HR 666 at
between $6 and $8 million dollars. I further believe that such a
verification of combat wounds and in many cases (where a CIB,
CAR, or combat decoration is involved), provide immediate
verification of combat service, allowing for IMMEDIATE
recognition of the fact that an individual is deserving of VA
flag" questionable cases where there may be fraud.
|When I approach this subject I am frequently
asked, "Doesn't the V.A. check DD-214s (military
discharge papers)?" They do indeed. But as you will see
from some of the cases below, in all too many situations the
proffered DD-214 is altered or completely bogus. To learn
more about this, see my page on the Problems with DD-214
It was dubbed "Operation Stolen
Valor" and was the FIRST major, sweeping project of its kind.
Air Force Times reported on it under the headline: Phony
Veterans Try to Cash in on VA Benefits. Launched in
Seattle, EIGHT men were charged with obtaining Veterans Services
and/or benefits based upon lies at a total cost to the VA of $1.3
MILLION. In each case the bogus hero had provided altered for
forged documentation to justify their claim. They included: (Click
on their name to open a pdf poster showing their photo, claims,
bogus and TRUE paperwork,
Valle Rios, a resident alien from Peru, who submitted a
false claim to VA and discharge documents. Valle Rios claimed
he earned a Purple Heart from his time as a World War II
pilot. He wrote in his claim that he was a member of the famed
Flying Tigers who secretly flew in China against Japanese
forces before the U.S. officially entered World War II. A
registered sex offender, he also was convicted of illegally
obtaining subsidized housing in Oregon. His sentence for
defrauding VA was two years’ probation, Shen said, adding
that he is in the custody of Immigration Customs Enforcement
and is being considered for deportation. Valle Rios in fact,
NEVER SERVED in the military but collected $ 22,818 in VA
Lewis Porter, 52, Seattle, Washington, sentenced April 19,
2007, for Mail Fraud in connection with a scheme to
fraudulently obtain disability benefits from Veterans Affairs.
Porter was sentenced to 37 months in prison. Porter claimed he
suffered PTSD from experiences in the Navy, however
investigation revealed the events were fabricated. His fraud
amounted to $134,000 in direct VA benefits, and overall his
deceit cost the VA $240,000.
J. Scott, 71, of Port Angeles, Washington pleaded guilty
August 31, 2007, to Use of an Altered Military Discharge
Certificate to obtain VA Compensation and Medical Benefits,
and Unlawful Wearing of United States Military Medals and
Decorations. Scott claimed he had served in the Marine Corps
in Korea, that he was wounded in combat in Korea, and that he
had been awarded the Korea Defense Medal, Korea Star Medal,
and a Purple Heart (due to alleged gun shot wounds sustained
during combat in Korea). Scott claimed to be honorably
discharged, when in fact, he never earned those medals, never
served in Korea or any foreign country and was Court-Martialed
out of the Marine Corps. Loss Amount: $21,960.
K. Hersey, 64, of Vancouver, Washington, Hersey was
indicted August 1, 2007, for Use and Possession of Forged or
Altered Military Discharge Certificate and False Statements.
Hersey is a fugitive and is being sought by law enforcement.
Hersey applied for benefits claiming he served in 1967-68, was
awarded two Purple Hearts (for wounds sustained in active
combat) and the Bronze Star (awarded for heroism). Hersey
claimed he suffered from PTSD and sought benefits. In fact,
Hersey never served in the Marine Corps at all. Loss Amount:
J. Swisher, 70, of Idaho, is charged with Wearing
Unauthorized Military Medals, False Statements, and Theft of
Government Funds. Swisher falsely claimed he was wounded in
Korea and that he had been awarded the Silver Star, Purple
Heart and other medals for valor. Loss Amount: $95,000.
Macbeth, 23, Tacoma, Washington, sentenced today in
connection with his fraudulent claims of military service.
Macbeth sought medical benefits claiming to suffer from PTSD
related to service in Iraq and Afghanistan, in fact, Macbeth
was discharged from the Army about a month after he joined.
Macbeth never traveled outside the U.S. with the Army. Macbeth
duped reporters, claiming to be a decorated Army Ranger who
had witnessed war crimes.
Reggie Buddle, 60, Puyallup, Washington,
sentenced July 30, 2007, for Unlawful Wearing of United States
Military Medals and Decorations. Buddle posed as a decorated
Marine Corps Chaplin presiding over weddings, funerals and
baptisms. Buddle was sentenced to 500 hours of community
service and two years of probation.
Former Army Specialist Michael Heit, a
former chairman of the Constitution Party of Montana who ran
for a seat in the state legislature, pleaded guilty to two
counts of filing false DD-214s to VA and the Military Order of
the Purple Heart in 2005. The forged discharge documents
claimed Heit was a decorated Vietnam veteran who earned a
Bronze Star with combat “V” and three Purple Hearts. He
also claimed he was held prisoner by North Vietnam from 1969
to 1972. Loss Amount: $3,500
Moneymaker, it might be argued, was appropriately named.
Moneymaker served about two years in the Army as a private in
the 1980s but was never sent overseas. But in paperwork he filed
for veteran disability and retirement payments, Moneymaker
claimed to have served in the Army from 1985 to 2002 and to have
suffered injuries as a result of "combat operations."
His scam netted $18,000 in benefits that could have been
otherwise spent on a REAL wounded warrior.