It took ten years of hounding by a dedicated few along with a barrage of requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act, but the VA has finally admitted that they are currently paying disability benefits to 966 Vietnam-era former POWS and 286 persons captured during the Persian Gulf War.  

But wait a minute; there is a problem with those numbers. The Nam-POW organization, which keeps pretty close tabs on these things, estimates that only 561 former POWs, plus or minus a few, are still alive and are receiving these benefits; and there were only 21 servicemen and women captured in the Persian Gulf War.

So, what’s going on here?  At this point it is hard to say, but there is a very good possibility that there are a bunch of fraudulent claims being paid to “POW wannabes.” You would think that, based on the glaring discrepancies described above, the VA would be all over this situation trying to find out who is submitting those fraudulant  claims; and if they are having trouble sorting out who was a POW and who was not, there are veterans organizations out there eager to help by cross checking the claims against their membership lists.

In fact, this is what representatives of Nam-POWs proposed to the VA on several occasions; namely, give us a list of the claimants being paid and we’ll tell you which ones are not on our lists.  The VA’s response?  Not so fast!  “No information can be given.

Reason: The Privacy Act.”  One representative from Inspector General’s office took it one step further.  “Give us the name ,rank, serial number, VA file number VA file number, date of birth, time and date of offense, and we will investigate you claim.”  Talk about a Catch 22 situation!  

If we had all that information why would we….well. you get the picture. The bottom line is that the VA is using tax payer dollars to pay fraudulent claims made by people who claim to be former POWS but in fact, are not.  This makes it an issue that all Americans should be concerned about.  

What can we do about this? Begin by getting more educated on the subject.  A good place to start would be to read the following article written by Associated Press National Writer Allen Breed:  http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/T/TOO_MANY_POWS?SITE=MTBIL& . After that, its time to contact your congressional delegations and tell them you are mad as hell!

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