Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Senator wants VA to review criteria for groups listed on website

TAMPA — In the wake of multiple investigations into the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, Sen. Jim Webb asked the Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday to review how it checks out the veterans service organizations the VA lists on its website.

"It stands to reason that veterans have a reasonable expectation of legitimacy and credibility if such an organization is listed on your official website, regardless of official endorsement,'' Webb said in his letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Webb, a Virginia Democrat and longtime veterans advocate, told Shinseki of multiple state investigations into the Navy Veterans and said it is "disconcerting" to see the organization listed on the VA's Directory of Veterans Service Organizations.

"I know you share my concern that we should minimize the opportunity for unscrupulous organizations to mislead or exploit our nation's veterans,'' Webb wrote.

The Navy Veterans Association advertises itself on its own Web site as "a nationally recognized U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Service Organization, one of only 147 nationwide so recognized."

The senator's action was sparked by recent St. Petersburg Times stories that questioned the nonprofit's legitimacy.

Founded in Tampa in 2002, the group bills itself as a national organization with 66,000-plus members and dozens of state chapters across the country that give tens of millions of dollars of assistance to military personnel, veterans and their families.

But of the 85 officers the group listed on its tax returns, the Times could find only one. Its officers, directors and auditors were nowhere to be found, its gifts mostly undisclosed, its records kept secret.

The only officer that could be found is Bobby Thompson. After the newspaper began asking questions, he cleared out of his $600-a-month Ybor City duplex and left his landlord no forwarding address.

Regulators in Florida, New Mexico, Missouri and Hawaii have started investigations. The New Mexico attorney general ordered the group to cease operating there after determining officers' names and addresses listed on tax returns are "fictional." Hawaii this week ordered the Navy Veterans to halt fundraising there because the group is not legally registered.

The Navy Veterans did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Senator wants VA to review criteria for groups listed on website 05/18/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 9:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New center opens in Tampa to help those with missing, damaged limbs

    Veterans

    TAMPA — Justin Lansford, his service dog Gabe by his side, smiled broadly Thursday as he imagined the future of a sprawling, resource center for people who need artificial limbs and those interested in helping them.

    Justin Lansford, 27, lost his left leg above the knee in Afghanistan. He was one of dozens of people attending the opening of the Veterans International Institute of Orthotics & Prosthetics in Tampa on Thursday. [HOWARD ALTMAN   |   Staff]
  2. Still worried about family, Tampa Bay Puerto Ricans ramp up relief effort

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — Brenda Irizarry is worried.

    Brenda Irizarry of Tampa, while agonizing over the status of family in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, is helping lead an effort to collect and send supplies to the island. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
]
  3. Was it a crime? 10 patients at nursing home died after Irma

    News

    HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — A 10th elderly patient has died after being kept inside a nursing home that turned into a sweatbox when Hurricane Irma knocked out its air conditioning for three days, even though just across the street was a fully functioning and cooled hospital.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]
  4. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us

    Columns

    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman.
  5. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”