Each day we shuffle through cases submitted by a veteran or a family member of a spouse about the delay with the Veteran Administration. We advocate for our veterans to ensure they are receiving adequate medical care and assist with claim status on their files not in order received, rather urgent of nature. We had a veteran send an email after two days of receiving his claim, he stated he was shortly to become evicted, lose his car and everything because the VA wasn't doing their job, naturally our focus shifted to the sense of urgency with this veterans. That was until we looked at his DD214 and noticed it was a fake document and so were the awards he received.
Who is taking the time away from our veterans who deserve it? People who are trying to scam the system and they are everywhere. We are in the process of working with the VA & Central Command to oust some individuals who are not only receiving benefits from the government but operating businesses and non profits, with false claims of injuries either mental or physical. Visit our friends at https://www.facebook.com/StolenValor and Read more below.
HEARTBREAKING WAR TALES, SOMETIMES MASK VA FRAUD
TAMPA— The Marine showed up for his 2013 medical exam in a wheelchair pushed by his wife. He whimpered when a St. Petersburg doctor for the Department of Veterans Affairs tried to flex his knees.
"On a good day," reported Joshua Stephen Bork, then 24, "I can push myself up to a sitting position and get out of bed and shuffle through the house."
Such heartbreaking tales aren't unique after America's nearly 14 years at war. Nor are they always true.
A federal agent had already witnessed Bork's good days. Away from doctors, he didn't use a wheelchair.
He taught martial arts.
Yet the government says he collected veterans disability benefits totaling $89,278.
• • •
Every war creates opportunities for military benefits fraud.
In 2007, when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was a U.S. attorney, his office went after Atlantic City Mayor Bob Levy for faking a parachute injury and exaggerating his Army record from Vietnam to collect $24,683.
Levy got probation.
Navy veteran Ronnie Glenn Eddings, 43, of Fayetteville, N.C., is serving five years. He collected $893,739 feigning lower-limb paralysis from Saudi Arabia.
Army veteran Latonya Baldwin of Pensacola, who served in the Persian Gulf War, drew "unemployability" and other benefits totaling $205,402 long after she took a job as a schoolteacher. She's doing 15 months.
And, closer to home, Danny Crane of Riverview found his inspiration in Afghanistan and Iraq — not that he ever served in those countries.
Crane, 33, obtained VA-paid medical care after falsely claiming he had been shot six times, had 24 plates in his face and had lost vision in his right eye, court records state. Crane altered discharge papers to wrongly credit himself with a Distinguished Flying Cross and two Purple Hearts.
In real life, he was discharged for failure to adapt, and he never made it to the Middle East.
He did get to Hawaii, courtesy of the group Vacations for Veterans, which took pity on his false claim of prostate cancer, records show. He was released in September from a yearlong federal sentence but arrested this month on a new drug charge.
• • •
It's no crime to pose as a war hero, though it once was, before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 2005 Stolen Valor Act. The new Stolen Valor Act, passed in 2013, makes it illegal to pose as a war hero to obtain money, property or other tangible benefits.
Last year, the VA's Office of Inspector General opened 199 stolen valor cases and arrested 144 people. "There are some individuals who lie about military service to enhance the esteem in which they are held by neighbors, associates or even women they meet in a bar," said James O'Neill, assistant inspector general for investigations in Washington, D.C. "But typically, that's not what motivates our defendants, who are driven primarily by greed."
The malingering is most conspicuous in times of conflict, against a backdrop of authentic casualties.
Since 2000, more than 51,000 American service members have been wounded in action and more than 6,700 have died, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Ryan Timoney of Jacksonville lost part of a leg and suffered head trauma from a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.
He isn't naive. While Timoney was recovering at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa, a veteran who worked there stole his identity for credit card fraud. But some lies are worse than others, Timoney said, when asked about stolen valor.
"It is particularly shameful to lie about your military experience," he said, "because this dishonors those who have truly put their lives on the line for your safety and the safety of your family."
• • •
Joshua Bork left the Marine Corps on Aug. 27, 2008, with an "uncharacterized discharge," given to individuals who separate from the service before 180 days, a criminal complaint states.
Two weeks later, he applied for disability benefits.
The VA granted him a disability rating of 10 percent for degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine. Bork appealed and won an 80 percent rating for back and knee issues.
He has lived in several Florida cities but was renting a home in Tampa when authorities got a tip that he was doing martial arts training. He wasn't hiding it. His photos and videos were on the Internet, and he even put on a demonstration for a Tampa-based battalion of military police.
While under investigation by Special Agent Douglas Williams of the VA's Office of Inspector General, Bork asked for another increase in benefits: an automobile allowance, money to pay an attendant, and compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The agent learned that Bork was not, as he claimed, a witness to a suicide in boot camp.
Bork's father, Ted Bork of Venice, told the Tampa Bay Times that his son has a history of mental illness, and it causes him to make poor choices. He needs help, the father said, not prison.
Joshua Bork did sustain a back injury in the Marine Corps by falling off a truck in battle gear during training, his father said.
"What he did, he kept trying to increase the disability payments," Ted Bork said. "That's a flag. If you want 100 percent disability, you better not be able to get out of a wheelchair. If he had not pushed that to the limit, maybe they wouldn't have been so interested in finding out what he was up to."
The federal agent, Williams, conducted surveillance of Bork and reported seeing him train several students, including his wife, in Krav Maga, a form of Israeli self-defense.
"Bork showed no signs of pain or disability and had full range of motion," the agent wrote.
Bork got through the classes by taking pain medication, his father said.
"He's very good at it, and he's a good teacher," his father said. "He saw that as his only skill, his only ability for making a living."
Bork wasn't the government's only target when charges were brought. Ex-wife Madeleine Farhat, who filed for divorce after the federal investigation began, was charged with conspiracy.
Both have signed plea agreements and are expected to be sentenced in the coming months.
Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Patty Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3382.
To tell the Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Inspector General about criminal activity, fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement of VA programs, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll-free 1-800-488-8244.
Today I was able to visit Fort Leavenworth VA to meet about the upcoming Ride 4 the fallen May 10, 2014! More info at www.ride4thefallen.com
In 2013 I created the Ride 4 The Falllen to help honor not only my husband's but the memory of thousands of men and women who selflessly gave their life for our freedoms today.
May 10 we will do a rollcall of fallen soldiers in the state in which we will ride in the general public is welcome and then our riders will start riding cars motorcycles trucks bicycles horses anything at that point we will ride in honor of the fallen if they can die for us we can ride for them.
Not only are we going to perpetuate the memory of the fallen, we are going to celebrate the life of the living and our ride will end at the VA in Leavenworth Kansas for a huge lunch with all the veterans as a thank you for their service.
I am very happy to say that the ride for the fallen will be a national event this May 2014 thank you to not just one or two volunteers but hundreds of people across the nation that are volunteering their time to perpetuate an honor our fallen.
I know Jamie would be proud.
Yes, it is true. I like it when you hurt me. I like feeling the raw emotions of anguish, the sharp pain of shock and the fact I know I am still alive.
To put it easy, I like it when you hurt me, when you refuse to make eye contact as I walk by, when you whisper under your breath, when you cut me off in traffic, get my order wrong and intentionally go out of your way to offend another. I like it, because I know if you can hurt me, I still care. You see, it doesnt matter what the emotion is, happy, sad, mad, depressed, lonely or dedicated they all mean the same thing to me, that I am able to feel and have compassion. There was a time not long ago, I detached from the world, I shut off my emotions and each day still I struggle with the detachment. When I am focused or when the world just becomes too much for me to handle, I just zone out everything, not just the one thing that was hurtful. I zoned it all out, that was my safe haven. That was what saved my life each day I sat vigil next to my husband's hospital bed because to me, the only thing that mattered was him. After he died, my body grew numb, my mind went on auto pilot and I just lived each day for him, since I had already lost him physically, I couldnt bear the emotion of losing him mentally.
Each day I woke up and I lived for him, I was able to open my eyes, stand on my two feet and live the life he no longer had. My survivors guilt and torment of what could have, should have or didnt happen in the last 11 months of his life haunted me. How could I fix what was broken, that was when I realized I was the one thing that was broken. I had carried on a love and legacy that could never be matched and I couldnt imagine letting it go. The mere thought of losing him again suddenly brought tears to my eyes as I ran through memories in my head. Memories of our first date, memories of our second date, our first kiss and the first time he made love to me and looked in my eyes and said "I love you." The one thing every woman dreams about as a little girl, growing up and marrying her knight in shining armor and knowing that he loves you so much he is willing to die for you. Not just a figure of speech, but literally take a bullet, suffer and even in his last breath says I love you and die for you. That was the day he hurt me, not on purpose or as an act of discontent, it was what he was created for.
I wish I could sit here and tell you what the feelings were like after Jamie died, but to me now, it seems like a dream. All I really remember was covering him with his 1st Infrantry blanket as he told me to do after he was gone, in fact, all I knew what to do was what he told me. He told me to live for him, to care for his soldiers and to love again. But how do you love again after you have had that kind of hurt? He hurt me! All those years of being afraid of commitment, refusing to date then the one man who doesnt give up on me and plays guitar outside by bedroom window, asks me to marry him over and over, dies a month after our first wedding anniversary. How do you ever love that way again? To this day, I have done what he told me to do and I live for him, I did what he couldn't do each day and I to this day care for his soldiers, his fellow service members and the veterans who paved the way for my husbands a millions of service members today.
To put it short and sweet once more, I like it when you hurt me not because I truly like it, its because I know I am still alive and able to do something he is not and that is hurt.. he can't hurt anymore.
After Jamie passed away, memorial day had a whole new meaning to me. I can remember how each day after he died, it was memorial day to me. Each day I would lay by his grave site and stare at the sky thinking about the life we had, the strength he gave me and trying to figure out a way I could share his strength with the rest of the world.
Months went by and I started meeting other widows, gold star family members and families of the fallen and one thing to me was clear, we all wanted to honor our loved ones. But how could we do this? Even though we were so hurt on the inside, we didnt want others to feel that pain, we wanted them to feel our pride! In December 2012, with the help of friends and supporters, we created the Ride 4 The fallen a motorcycle ride with the slogan "They died for us, we will ride for them" To me, it was wonderful in May 2013 seeing the hundreds of people registering to help carry on a memory and ride 4 the fallen.
The mission of the “Ride 4 the Fallen” is to perpetuate the memory of Military heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting America's freedoms.
All proceeds will be donated to the “Military Veteran Project”, a 100% volunteer led organization that advocates, educates, and honors Military Veterans & their families.
Please join us on May 10th, 2014, as supporters from across the nation will ride in honor of our fallen heroes. Registration is available online.
All registrants will be given a photo of a Military Hero who gave the ultimate sacrifice. The photo may be carried in hand or attached to the bike/car as a reminder of the sacrifices they made. Knowing they died for us, we will ride for them on this day, in their honor, as we keep their memory alive. Their sacrifices will not be in vain. Let us never forget the price they paid for our freedom.
In June 2013 I was asked if we could help create this ride in every state. While we operated the first event under the Military Veteran Project as a fundraiser, I knew we had to take this to the next level. To make it easier for people to participate we created Ride 4 The fallen - www.ride4thefallen.com an LLC that would be able to operate in each state and have a state ride captain to help conduct the ride. All the ride captains are in agreement that the net proceeds of this ride in each state will be donated to a non profit that is locally operated and operates at minimal costs. After all, I still believe that when you operate a non profit, you should do so because you believe in the cause, not because you want to make a six figure income. I still operate the Military Veteran Project as a 100% volunteer, www.militaryveteranproject.org . Along with me I have nearly 23 volunteers per day helping assist with operations, administrative duties and overall support of our military veterans.
As you can see, its been a very busy two years for me and I wouldnt change it for the world. As I have said before, If my husband can give his life for our country, then I can live each day carrying on his wish to care for his fellow service members.
As you read this, please know you are important in carrying on Jamie's wish and helping honor our service members, each time you like, comment or share a facebook post or this journal more people will become aware of how they can assist.. and thank you!
My name is Melissa Jarboe, military spouse, wounded warrior wife and war widow. Today and everyday moving forward, I will honor the sacrifice of our men and women who selflessly serve our nation.