Veterans Beware of Scammers

Scammers are going very high tech. According to reports, scam callers are attempting to elicit financial and other personal information from veterans. Callers may tell vets there is a new type of veterans benefit related to home loans. The reports say the scammers use caller ID spoofing to deceive their intended victims. (The number actually shows a VA phone number on your caller ID.) The scammers often leave voice messages, following a script that goes something like this: “Your VA profile has flagged for two potential benefits to the changes in the VA program. These are time sensitive entitlements. Please call us back at your earliest convince.” The voicemail includes a fraudulent call back number for “veterans services”. Potential victims who call the number are offered benefits such as loan modification to their mortgages, then asked for personal information, including social security numbers, dates of birth and bank accounts. If you get a call, hang up immediately. You can always call the VA and ask if they are trying to get in touch with you.

VFW Testifies at Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Hearings

On Tuesday, VFW Washington Office Executive Director B.J. Lawrence testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security regarding “Bringing Our Nation’s Heroes Home.” Lawrence thanked Chairman Lynch for introducing H.R. 4879, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Support Act, which would ensure the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has the necessary resources to continue its mission during government shutdowns. He also expressed the importance of our partnership with DPAA to work with foreign governments to help American researchers gain access to foreign military archives and past battlefields. “Since 1991, the VFW is the only veteran service organization to return to Southeast Asia, Russia, and China and has made it our goal to not rest until we achieve the fullest possible accounting of all missing American military and civilian personnel from all past wars,” stated Lawrence during the hearing.

Student Veteran Protection Bill Introduced

This past week, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced the Protect Veterans’ Education and Taxpayer Spending (Protect VETS) Act of 2019, which would eliminate financial loopholes in higher education that could be used to prey upon student veterans. Sen. Carper, a VFW Life member, has worked tirelessly to bring about protections for veterans, service members, and their families during their pursuit of higher education. Sen. Carper’s proposal would finally eliminate the problematic 90/10 loophole that has been a VFW priority for years. The VFW would like to thank Sen. Carper, along with his colleagues Sens. Cassidy (R-La.), Lankford (R-Okla.), and Tester (D-Mont.) for their bold bipartisan actions to protect the interests of student veterans.

House Veterans Affairs Committee Considers Suicide Factors Bill

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing last week on H.R. 3495, Improve Well-Being for Veterans Act, also known as the Improve Act. The bill, introduced by Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), seeks to establish a pilot program that will use grants to support local organizations that provide mental health and support programs focused on veterans and their families in local communities. VA estimates that 20 veterans die by suicide every day, 14 of whom have not engaged with VA in the year of or year preceding their suicides. The goal of the Improve Act is to reach veterans in the community who are not engaged with VA by offering them support through community-based programs. The VFW supports the concept of the Improve Act and is working to ensure it addresses the needs of veterans and their families in a meaningful way.

POW/MIA Update

Navy Fireman 1st Class Hadley I. Heavin, 23, of Kansas City, Missouri, was assigned to the battleship USS West Virginia, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft on Dec. 7, 1941. The USS West Virginia sustained multiple torpedo hits. Interment services are pending.

Navy Fireman 3rd Class Welborn L. Ashby, 24, of Louisville, Kentucky, was assigned to the battleship USS West Virginia, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Interment services are pending.

Army Sgt. Maximiano T. Lacsamana, 37, of the Philippines, a veteran of the Philippine Scouts during World War II, was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team. During the Korean War, his unit was engaged in intense fighting with the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces near Hagaru-ri, North Korea. Interment services are pending.

Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Alfred Edwards, 33, of Stilwell, Oklahoma, was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Edwards will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The date has yet to be determined.

Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. John R. Bayens, 20, of Louisville, Kentucky, was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Bayens will be buried Dec. 16, 2019, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Army Pfc. Wilbur T. Tackett, 18, of Alger, Ohio, was a member of Battery B, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 6, 1950. Tackett will be buried in his hometown. The date has yet to be decided.

Navy Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Arnold M. Nielsen, 32, of Oakland, California, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which capsized after sustaining multiple torpedo hits as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The funeral date and location have yet to be decided.

Till next week, praying for all service members.


– Charles Castelluccio