On November 28, 2010 we published an "email' warning about Veterans Affairs Services (VAS). An email that has been widely circulated among veterans groups, and the internet.
VA Watchdog Today later linked to our email warning at their Rumor Control site. They had this advice regarding the email, and I quote:
"I can't find the origin but it almost appears to be an attempt at humor...something like Onion News."
I was content to let that be the end of the email. Then late last night, a veteran contacted me regarding this same email. We talked and I said there was some doubt surrounding this email. I sent him the link to the VA Watchdog site. He responded by saying that he had gotten a letter from VAS. He thought it might be something I should look into.
Thanks to the folks at Coast Guard Retiree Council Northwest for clearing up the question of is it the truth or a hoax!
I did find the following:
VAS has not updated their site's home page since "Page last updated: 02-Aug-2004" and other pages at their site contain broken links.
The VAS logo is strikingly similar to the Department of Veterans Affairs logo.
The names are striking similar. Veterans Affairs Services vs Department of Veterans Affairs (commonly referred to as the VA-Veterans Affairs)
After much digging around, I was able to uncover one gem that quite possibly has cleared this whole truth or hoax situation up.
Over at the Coast Guard Retiree Council Northwest website, they went a step further and verified the email directly with Mr. Secor. For those who are not comfortable following links all over the place I copied the information below. The response is posted here.
Here is what he had to say:
“In 2006, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of the General Counsel (OGC) corresponded with Veterans Affairs Services (VAS) regarding concerns that the organization's name and seal created the impression that VAS was affiliated with, or endorsed by, the Department. OGC advised the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) of these concerns and VBA circulated the information. VAS later added a disclaimer at the top of its website home page that addressed some of our concerns. No further action was taken.
Section 5902(a) of title 38, United States Code, authorizes VA to recognize organizations for the limited purpose of ensuring competent representation of Veterans seeking benefits. Organizations like VAS may provide services to Veterans without VA recognition, including informational websites, if the services do not include assistance with the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for VA benefits.
Since July 2006, OGC has had no communications with VAS and has not issued any advice regarding the organization. The recent e-mail message warning Veterans about VAS' activities, which has been widely disseminated, is from an unknown source but contains some of the information discussed with VAS and VBA in 2006."
Copyright © 2010 Coast Guard Retiree Council Northwest
You will find the link to the above material here at Coast Guard Retiree Council Northwest under CG BENEFITS NEWS 2010 DEC 03 - VA "warning to veterans" was false alarm
I for one, don't find much humor in or feel one should "ignore it" when warnings tell you to refrain from giving out personal information. But that is just my opinion!