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AP: POW benefit claimants exceed recorded POWs

"There are only 21 surviving POWs from the first Gulf War in 1991, the Department of Defense says. Yet the Department of Veterans Affairs is paying disability benefits to 286 service members it says were taken prisoner during that conflict, according to data released by VA to The Associated Press.

A similar discrepancy arises with Vietnam POWs. Only 661 officially recognized prisoners returned from that war alive -- and about 100 of those have since died, according to Defense figures. But 966 purported Vietnam POWs are getting disability payments, the VA told AP.

Being classified as a POW doesn't directly increase a veteran's monthly disability check. There's no 'POW payment.'"
Date added: July 27, 2010

Watchdogs labor to expose liars about Military exploits

"It's an epidemic of military fakers and liars out there, said Mary Schantag of Branson, who has made it her job to expose fake POWs.

So far this year, Schantag and her retired Marine husband, Chuck, have received requests to check almost 8,000 names to verify POW claims. Last year, they ran more than 14,000 names.

The Schantags, along with Vietnam veteran Doug Sterner of Virginia, are members of the 22-member Stolen Valor Task Force, a group of veterans and military researchers across the country who share information to expose military impostors.

Self-taught experts, they collect tidbits of information every day from dozens of sources; file Freedom of Information requests; and gather notes from general orders, historical accounts and prisoner of war records. They scrutinize the material, cross-check it with other sources and build databases.

Their goal is to have a searchable repository of all earned medals of valor. A place where the public can read stories about heroes who otherwise might be forgotten.

Every one of the task force members knew a real hero who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

And every one has vowed to stop those who would steal another's valor.

Date added: July 25, 2010