Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

July 25, 2013

A call for caution against veterans scams


The Andover Townsman

---- — Michael Burke, director of veterans’ services, is warning residents about fraudulent solicitation calls seeking donations for veterans.

Burke says Andover residents recently have been getting calls asking for donations for veterans. Some of the callers are identifying themselves as working for the town Veterans’ Services Office and imply they are raising money for Andover veterans.

“This is a complete falsehood,” he says. “Sadly, this happens from time to time.”

Burke has submitted this article to warn residents to beware of questionable calls for assistance.

---

We all wish to assist charities, including veterans’ charities. Yet some charities are better than others in putting your donations to good use. Unfortunately, there are organizations that should be ashamed of what they do, preying on our strong desire to donate and they fail on their end of the bargain.

Please note that my office and veterans’ service offices in Massachusetts have seen an increase in “scams” — non-legitimate organizations preying particularly on the elderly. Often, these entities target a community saying they are sponsored by local veterans and have the support of the local veterans’ services office.

Likewise, there are legitimate organizations out there that exhibit practices that are shameful. Their overhead costs leave relatively little money to the veteran causes they supposedly champion. Additionally, though they claim nonprofit status, their employees’ salaries are downright sinful. Often, their marketing processes, providing a nice “news story,” leave a less than full and accurate portrayal of their full situation as a nonprofit. Lastly, these “legitimate” organizations tend to solicit local funds to go to national endeavors and donations do not assist our local veterans in need.

It is beyond the scope of this office to adequately assess legitimate organizations. Therefore, this office only advocates for donations to our local veterans here in town or donations directly to this office with the intent of assisting our local veterans.

When in doubt, I suggest donating to an organization you are absolutely certain of or locally where you can confirm your donation will go to a good cause.

This article is not meant to be a solicitation. It is intended to raise awareness in our community to the less-than-ethical marketing practices some organizations are using. However, if you feel the need to donate, there are two local ways to do so that will directly benefit Andover’s veterans. They are:

The American Legion, Post 8 Andover, P.O. Box 62, Andover 01810

Andover Veterans’ Services Office, Town of Andover, 36 Bartlet St., Andover 01810

The Andover Veterans’ Services Office strives to meet the needs of veterans in town, support our patriotic ceremonies and care for our veterans’ memorials. A specific gift account is established in the town’s office to offset costs for many noble causes. In particular, financial assistance is always needed in the four main areas below to meet rising costs of these important community efforts:

The Annual Veterans Appreciation Luncheon: A luncheon for our veterans from all generations, yet mainly catering to those getting along in years who find it difficult to attend the formal ceremonies held in and around Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Assistance is needed to offset the cost of the meal and other expenses.

The “Heroes Among Us” Book Project: This ongoing effort aims to document our veterans’ personal history and make them available to the veterans, their families, schools, library and other organizations. Assistance is needed to offset the cost of printing the books, reducing the overall expense to the veterans and/or their families.

Patriotic Events: Funds are needed for the presentation of Memorial Day, Veterans Day and other observances and ceremonies.

Seasonal Floral Plantings: The Veterans’ Services Office is responsible for memorial care as well as ongoing fresh plantings at our veterans’ memorials.

Anyone with questions should contact Burke at 978-623-8218.