Serving
Mohave County
May 2024
Volume 24 Issue 3
COMPLIMENTARY

May 2024 | Editorial, May 2024 | 0 comments

Stolen Valor, Stolen Benefits

Editorial, May 2024 | 0 comments

May 2024

By Freddy Groves
How, one wonders, does something like this happen? How does a civilian collect $146,000 in VA benefits for allegedly having been wounded and held a prisoner of war in Iraq when he’s never even served in the military?
It’s one thing to walk around with fake military medals pinned to your chest or to tell tall tales in a bar, but how does all the rest slip by? And for so long?
The story: A civilian has been charged with taking education, health and disability benefits after he claimed to be a Marine who was wounded in combat and held as a prisoner of war in Iraq. He claimed to have been wounded in an IED (improvised explosive device) attack and was then captured. He claimed he’d been awarded the Purple Heart, Prisoner of War medal and several others.
To apply for all those benefits and cash, he would have needed a DD214 as well as other paperwork. To keep from delaying the handing out of benefits and cash, the VA lets veterans use their own documents when they submit applications.
Sometimes people lie and turn in fake documents. Over time he turned in a pile of those fake documents, including the DD214 and certificates for his stack of alleged medals.
But that’s where this criminal’s story should have fallen apart. I can see accepting a veteran’s initial documents to get him started on the benefits, but to let the fraud go on for five long years? Surely someone could have looked up the details to verify the Purple Heart and prisoner of war status? Did no one bother to check to see if he’d even been in the military?
Eventually the criminal got greedy and applied for educational benefits on top of the cash he received each month for his alleged physical injuries, receiving monthly subsistence payments and payments to the university.
If that wasn’t enough, he then applied for an increase in the disability payments.
How is it no one spotted this fraud long ago?
(c) 2024 King Features Synd., Inc.

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