Showing posts with label Chicago IL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chicago IL. Show all posts

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Marine veteran with PTSD pushed in front of Chicago Red Line moving train!

Man pushed in front of El train, killed was Marine who served in Afghanistan

WGN9 News
by: Tonya Francisco
Posted: Apr 8, 2020
Al Balde calls that good news, but says he can’t help but struggle with encouraging his son to join the military, saying he came back with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after his second tour in 2015.
CHICAGO — Family members say a former Marine who served two tours in Afghanistan was killed in a Chicago subway tunnel Tuesday after he was pushed onto the tracks and struck by a Red Line train.

Al Balde and his daughter came to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office Wednesday to identify the body of 27-year-old Mamadou Balde, who was killed Tuesday.
read it here

Monday, April 6, 2020

Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital Director orders "all hands on deck" exposing them and veterans to COVID-19

Veterans hospital employees fear new work-from-home ban will endanger community

Chicago Sun Times
By Jake Wittich
Apr 5, 2020

The hospital’s new director, James Doelling, sent an email to Hines VA staffers calling for “all hands on deck” after many employees had already been working from home for weeks.

Employees at the Chicago-area Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital are concerned about a new “all hands on deck” directive that would send employees who have already been working from home amid the coronavirus outbreak back into the field.

The workers include social workers, dietitians, psychiatrists and more at the hospital whose services began shifting to telehealth practices when Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 began mid-March.

Some — like a social worker and mother of a 3-year-old — started working from home weeks ago while others began teleworking as recently as last week.

But that seemingly came to an abrupt end last week when the hospital’s new director, James Doelling, sent an email to Hines VA staffers calling for “all hands on deck” as the center prepared for a surge of veterans in need of services.
read it here

Monday, June 10, 2019

Petty Officer James Miske died on May 26 in Columbia, South Carolina.

SC funeral home asks community to serve as family after Vietnam veteran dies alone

FOX 8 News
June 10, 2019

CHAPIN, S.C. — A Vietnam veteran died with no family to take care of his final salute, so a funeral home will take up the duty.

“It is my honor to use the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Program to give this Veteran that final salute. I am reaching out once again asking that you help us serve as family for this previously Unclaimed Veteran,” Caughman-Harman Funeral Home said in a Facebook post Thursday.

Petty Officer James Miske died on May 26 in Columbia, South Carolina.

He was born in 1944 in Chicago and served in the U.S. Navy from 1965 to 1967.

He was assigned to Aviation Administration Maintenance before transferring to Naval Reserves.

“Petty Officer Third Class Miske served his Nation honorably in the Vietnam War receiving a National Defense Service Medal and a Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Star,” the funeral home wrote.
read more here

Monday, May 20, 2019

Four widowed Police Officers' wives speak to #BreakTheSilence

Widows Of Police Suicide Speak Out

May 18, 2019
Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday

More police officers now die by suicide than in the line of duty. NPR's Scott Simon talks with the widows of four officers who took their own lives about losing their husbands to suicide.

There is a suicide crisis in the United States. We're going to talk about it frankly, and our story may disturb some listeners. If you feel you're in a crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255.

The national suicide rate has increased by nearly 30 percent since 1999 in this blessed America. There are now more than twice as many suicides in the United States as homicides. Many involve drugs, drinking or depression, losing a job, a loved one, or stress. But experts say there is no one, two or 10 causes.

We have a story today to begin a series of reports about some of the people touched by suicide.
SIMON: Seven Chicago police officers have taken their own lives in the past 12 months. Father Brandt goes out to crime scenes and station houses if officers feel the need to talk to a priest, if not a therapist. Across the country, at least 159 officers died by suicide in 2018.

Kristen Clifford's husband was Officer Steven Clifford of the Nassau County, N.Y., police. They had just gotten a puppy. They looked forward to having children. One day in May 2017, he wasn't responding to her text messages, so she drove home.

Melissa Swailes was married to Officer David Swailes of the Los Angeles Police Department. They had four sons. David Swailes had symptoms of post-traumatic stress from his time in the U.S. Navy. On their youngest son's second birthday, Melissa Swailes came home and found her husband behind their bathroom door.

Erin Gibson was married to Sergeant Clinton Gibson of the Liberty Lake, Wash., police. They were high school sweethearts. They had four children.

Nicole Rikard had recently married Officer John Rikard of the Asheville, N.C., police. He was a recovering alcoholic, but he drank the night he took his life. She got a phone call from one of his lieutenants.
read the rest here

Monday, March 11, 2019

Chicago Police grieving loss of another officer to suicide

Chicago police officer found dead with possible self-inflicted gunshot wound: police

Sun-Times Media Wir
Monday, March 11th, 2019

CHICAGO -- A Chicago police officer was found dead Sunday afternoon with a possible self-inflicted gunshot wound near his home on the West Side, police said.

Eric Concialdi, 44, was found about 1:30 p.m. in the 1500 block of West Monroe Street, police and the Cook County Medical Examiner's office said.

An autopsy was scheduled to determine the cause and manner of death.

If ruled a suicide, it would be the third this year in the Chicago Police Department.
read more here

If you are struggling, do not doubt those you serve with would risk their lives for you...and will be there when you need to #BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Thank you WSCR-AM 670’s Dan McNeil

When a radio show host had the chance to remain silent about mental illness, he chose to #BreakTheSilence and confront the bully of his healing.

After over half my life has been consumed by PTSD and the efforts to help veterans to heal, getting them to overcome the stigma, has been the hardest thing to do. Someone decided that mental illness was something to be ashamed of, and that is the message they got.

This is for anyone with a mental illness, no matter what it is. No matter what it is caused by or what label it has been given. 

The truth is, there is no shame for you unless you put it there. Do you really care what other people think about you, more than what you think about yourself?

Mental illness is real and so is taking steps to live the best life possible by doing what is possible to living happier ever after!

Well this radio show guy just won one for all of you last night!

After 'dead pool' pick, radio host Dan McNeil shares mental health struggle: 'I must confess, this guy got to me'

Chicago Tribune
Phil Rosenthal
January 18, 2019

Sharing a vulnerability uncommon among sports radio hosts, WSCR-AM 670’s Dan McNeil laid himself bare in a post-midnight Facebook post Friday.

McNeil, 57, apparently was triggered by a text from a listener who informed him he had been selected in the listener’s so-called dead pool in which the deaths of those chosen score points weighted toward the decedent’s relative youth.

Despite initially seeming to laugh off the note as he might on the air — “Give the dude credit for a sound investment strategy; I’m a good ‘value pick’ in a pool like that” — McNeil responded with soulful ruminations on living with vices, mental health issues and suicide.

Then he shared the impact he imagined his death would have on his three grown sons.

“I must confess, this guy got to me,” McNeil wrote. “I even cried a few times. Daydreaming about my sons’ sadness over the void in their lives is an optic I’d just as soon avoid.

“What kind of human has so much contempt for a radio show, he wishes for — at the minimum, bets on — a guy’s death? So, hoping that guy is reading this — as I did on the air, hoping he was listening — I want him to quickly meet my sons, now bereaved by the loss of their dad.”
read more here

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Veteran with PTSD gets probation after flight meltdown

Man pleads guilty to threatening airline crew on flight to New Orleans | The Times-Picayune
By Laura McKnight
September 14, 2018

A New Jersey man pleaded guilty Thursday (Sept. 13) in a New Orleans federal court to interfering with an airline crew after he drunkenly threatened the plane's captain and crew during a flight last fall from Chicago to New Orleans, court records show.

Joel Michael Bane, 39, also struck two local law-enforcement officers who had boarded the plane upon its arrival in New Orleans to escort Bane off the aircraft, according to a factual basis for Bane's plea agreement.

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo set sentencing for Dec. 13.
Flying off into the sunset as a flight departs to the north from Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner, La. Tuesday, September 15, 2015. (Photo by David Grunfeld, | The Times-Picayune) ((Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.c)
An airport worker described Bane as "very large and very muscular" and warned law-enforcement that "four or five officers would be needed to remove the passenger from the plane," according to court records.

DeSalvo said that his client, a military veteran diagnosed with PTSD, was reacting in accordance with his training.

"It was just a very unfortunate situation where I think there was a lack of communication, and Mr. Bane was suffering from PTSD from six tours in the Middle East," DeSalvo said, adding that Bane's PTSD has been deemed "a total and permanent disability."
Bane faced up to 20 years in prison for the conviction, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. But he will receive no prison time and be ordered to probation as part of a plea agreement, defense attorney Frank DeSalvo said Friday. DeSalvo said the incident was caused by miscommunication and compounded by his client's post-traumatic stress disorder.

The disturbance, caught at least partially on cellphone video, occurred Oct. 13 as Southwest Airlines Flight 208 neared Louis Armstrong International Airport.
read more here

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Chicago Paramedics need help for their own lives

Chicago paramedics need our help to save their own lives
Chicago Sun Times
By Phil Kadner
August 7, 2018
As Frank Crossin, coordinator of the fire department union assistance program, told me, “We were all required to take a four-hour class on how to put out a pallet fire when I was in the department, but there were no mandatory classes like that on PTSD.”
Twelve people were killed and 71 shot in Chicago over the weekend. More than 1,700 people have been shot so far this year. And almost every time, Chicago paramedics are on the scene trying to save lives.

When a man used a knife to nearly decapitate the head of his 2-year-old son, Chicago paramedics responded.

At every horrific traffic accident, each time a teenager overdoses on heroin, when a baby is physically abused, or someone’s flesh is burned in a fire, the paramedics are there trying to save a life.

Yet, to my amazement, nobody has ever done a study of the toll taken by the stress on their lives.

There is no medically trained mental health expert (psychiatrist or psychologist) employed full-time by the Chicago Fire Department to monitor their well-being.

As one field supervisor told me, there is no mandatory class, no significant training, to help paramedics identify the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or help supervisors deal with people suffering from such symptoms.
There needs to be academic research on the impact of stress on Chicago paramedics. There needs to be a baseline mental health analysis conducted so evidence of stress can be tracked over years. And mental health professionals ought to be employed to make this a real priority within the Chicago Fire Department.
read more here

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Veterans Court Got PTSD Veteran Help He Needed

Aurora man says new vet court connected him ‘with the right people’

Chicago Sun Times
Jon Seidel
December 10, 2017

One of the many times Juan Morales fought in Afghanistan, he carried a wounded soldier to safety amid an enemy ambush.

Juan Morales, left, a graduate from the Veterans Treatment Court, receives a certificate from Joe Butler of the John Marshall Law School Veterans Legal Support Center and Clinic. | Provided photo
“It was a pretty big attack,” the 33-year-old Aurora man said. But it was just one of many. He said he found himself in battle nearly every day for four months while a member of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.
Morales became a team leader before returning home with the “knee of a 70-year-old” and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Then his troubles were nearly compounded when, while receiving treatment at Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Administration Hospital, he said he was caught on the grounds of the federal facility last spring with a knife he forgot to leave at home.
That oversight helped land him in front of a federal judge — a daunting moment for anyone. But months later, Morales became one of the first six graduates of the Northern District of Illinois’ Veterans Treatment Court, which aims to help veterans charged with federal misdemeanors get the help they need.
“They got me in touch with the right people,” Morales said.

Monday, November 6, 2017

"VietNow pocketed donations and did virtually nothing for veterans"

Vietnam veterans charity dissolved after 'egregious fraud'
Chicago Tribune
David Jackson and Gary Marx
November 6, 2017

"Instead, VietNow pocketed donations and did virtually nothing for veterans. Today's settlement finally will put an end to VietNow's egregious fraud." Attorney General Lisa Madigan

A VietNow charity volunteer pushes a rack of boxes filled with hundreds of sandwiches bound for homeless people in Chicago on July 19, 2015, in Lombard. (Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)
Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Monday announced a settlement led by Illinois and 23 other states to dissolve VietNow National Headquarters Inc., a Rockford charity that claimed to help veterans overcome joblessness and post-traumatic stress disorder.
VietNow, which also goes under the name VeteransNow, will shut down operations, and its remaining assets will be distributed to two legitimate charities, according to Madigan and court records.
Madigan sued the charity after a 2015 Tribune investigation found that VietNow had raised more than $20 million between 2003 and 2014 but spent 80 percent of those donations on for-profit telemarketers. Most of the remainder went for administrative costs, the Tribune reported, leaving just a fraction of the donations for programs to help military veterans. State attorneys general from across the country soon joined Madigan's lawsuit and took other enforcement actions.
read more here 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Refinancing Schemes Target Veterans Security

Government cracks down on home refinancing scheme targeting veterans 
Chicago Tribune
Kenneth R. Harney
September 26, 2017
In an interview, Michael R. Bright, acting Ginnie Mae president, said some of the abuses he is seeing hark back to 2005 and 2006 — heyday years of the boom before the bust. 

Iraq war veteran Vernon Poling, 44, walks through a courtyard past a giant American flag at Potter's Lane, an apartment complex made out of shipping containers in Midway City, Calif. 
Federal officials plan to crack down on what they view as predatory lending schemes — reminiscent of the toxic practices seen during the housing boom — targeted at thousands of veterans nationwide who have U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs home loans.
The alleged abuses involve serial refinancings that generate hefty fees for lenders and loan brokers but leave borrowers in worse financial shape than they were before the transaction. Lenders are accused of dangling teaser interest rates, “cash out” windfalls and lower monthly payments, sometimes purportedly using shady marketing materials that resemble official information from the Department of Defense. Not infrequently, say officials, borrowers end up in negative equity positions, owing more on their loan balance than their house is worth.
Officials at the Government National Mortgage Association, better known as Ginnie Mae, say some veterans are being flooded with misleading refi offers and are signing up without assessing the costs and benefits. Some properties are being refinanced multiple times a year, thanks to “poaching” by lenders who aggressively solicit competitors’ recent borrowers to refi them again and roll the fees into a new loan balance, officials say. 

“We’re seeing borrowers refinance three times in less than six months and (their) loan balances going up.” Homeowners also are dumping fixed-rate loans for riskier adjustables" Michael Brightread more here

Monday, July 17, 2017

PTSD Iraq Veteran Awarded $850k From Volvo

Volvo Must Pay Iraq War Vet With PTSD $850K for Job Bias
By Patrick Dorrian
July 14, 2017

A federal judge in Chicago ordered Volvo Group N.A. to pay an Iraq war veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder $850,740 for disability discrimination and military status bias ( Arroyo v. Volvo Grp. N.A., LLC , 2017 BL 242221, N.D. Ill., No. 12-cv-6859, 7/13/17 ).

The July 13 judgment in favor of LuzMaria Arroyo includes $550,740 in back pay, front pay, and other equitable relief awarded by the judge in a separate July 13 ruling. The court, however, cut to $300,000 a jury’s August 2016 award of $7.8 million in compensatory and punitive damages to Arroyo under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The reduction was required by the $300,000 statutory damages cap applicable to the ADA for employers with more than 500 employees, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois said.
read more here

Sunday, June 25, 2017

PTSD Missing Veteran James Ivy

Police: Milwaukee man last seen a week ago in Fernwood
Chicago Sun Times
CHICAGO NEWS 06/25/2017

Police are asking for the public’s help in finding a Milwaukee man who last last seen a week ago in the Fernwood neighborhood on the Far South Side.

James Ivy, 69, was last seen about 10 p.m. on June 17 in the 10300 block of South State Street, according to a missing person alert from Chicago Police.

Ivy is a retired veteran who has post-traumatic stress disorder and may be headed back to Milwaukee via Amtrak, police said.

He is described as a 205-pound, 6-foot-1 African American man with brown eyes, black hair and a medium complexion, according to police.
go here for more

Monday, May 22, 2017

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Vandalized in Chicago


Chicago Vietnam Veterans Memorial vandalized

Chicago police are looking for whomever who wrote their own names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

Vietnam veteran David Goddard said he saw two women writing their names on the wall near State Street and Wacker Drive Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Vietnam Veteran Helping Others When They Have No Home

Vietnam medic now heals lives of fellow vets
By Kathleen Toner
May 18, 2017

Wheaton, Illinois (CNN)As a medic with the U.S. Marines, Bob Adams put his life on the line for his men in some of the most intense battles of the Vietnam War.

After returning home, he faced another devastating fight.
CNN Hero Bob Adams
"The war followed me home," Adams said. "I began to drink more heavily and use drugs. And that would help sometimes with what I didn't know I had, which was post-traumatic stress."

Adams struggled for more than a decade -- enduring a stretch of homelessness -- before he got sober in 1985. By the mid-90s, he was a clinical social worker specializing in PTSD. He started feeding the homeless in Chicago and realized that many of the people on the streets were veterans.

"I began to see signs: 'Vietnam veteran. Will work for food,' " Adams said. "It was pretty clear that something had gone very, very wrong."

"Marines do not leave anyone behind. ... To see that code being broken shocked me into action."

Adams developed a plan to help, and his efforts gained momentum in 2004 when he met Dirk Enger, a U.S. Marine and Gulf War veteran who shared his passion. In 2007, they opened the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans in a clapboard, single-family home that accommodated five veterans.

Today, the nonprofit provides nearly 400 veterans a year with free assistance, including housing and counseling.

The group's transitional housing program helps veterans for up to two years. Residents do chores, attend 12-step classes and spend four hours a day seeking employment or acquiring job skills. The five residents become a squad of sorts.
read more here

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Thief Beat 94-Year Old WWII Female Navy Veteran

Judge tells man accused of beating woman, 94, 'Citizens of Chicago are not safe' with you on street

Josephine Regnier, a 94-year-old World War II Navy veteran, sits next to Jimmy, center, and Tommy Pieprzyca, who own Villa Rosa Pizza. The Pieprzycas offered a $5,000 reward that helped lead to the arrest of a man accused of beating and stealing from Regnier. (Judy Dusk) 

ABC News
Evelyn Holmes
December 8, 2016

"She's in the hospital right now with three fractured ribs, a black eye, a big goose egg on her head and a possible concussion," Dusk said.
Police are looking for a man who allegedly beat a 94-year-old woman, stole her purse and took off in a stolen vehicle before crashing it in Chicago's Garfield Ridge neighborhood.

The victim's daughter, Judy Dusk, said her mother, Josephine Regnier, is a World War II Navy veteran.

Dusk said she was waiting for one of her daughters outside her building in the 5100-block of South Long Avenue to pick her up to go to the dentist when she was attacked around 11:50 a.m. Wednesday. Police said a man pushed Regnier into the hallway of her building.

"This man just came in the gangway and assaulted her, beat the **** out of her, took her purse and ran," Dusk said.

Regnier was rushed to MacNeal Hospital, where police said her condition stabilized.
read more here

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Headline Put Rescued Dog Above Vietnam Veteran Being Murdered?

Chicago man, woman charged with murder of veteran in University Village shooting

I read a lot of strange stories. This just made it to the top of my list of head exploding reporting! A Vietnam veteran served 3 tours and was dealing with PTSD. He adopted a rescue dog. Great story so far. Then I went to the link on Robert Howard to see what was reported by Sun Times Homicide section. The story on the dog was longer than the story on Howard.

Should we care a rescue dog was left homeless again? Sure, but have things gotten so bad in Chicago a story on a dog seems to mean more than a murdered veteran?

Apollo needs new home after his rescuer, Vietnam veteran Robert Howard, was shot to death in University Village Chicago Sun Times
by Brittany Reyes
Posted Feb. 9, 2016
Robert Howard Jr. was a graduate of VALOR (Veterans Advancing Lives of Rescues). He was killed on Jan. 26 and is missed by loved ones, Safe Humane Chicago members, and his emotional support dog, Apollo.
The death of Robert Howard Jr. left the dog he’d once rescued without a home and his best friend.

Howard, a 62-year-old Vietnam War veteran killed in a shooting in University Village on Jan. 26, was the proud owner of Apollo, a big, joyful puppy who was matched with Howard through Veterans Advancing the Lives of Rescues (VALOR).

VALOR is an 8-week Safe Humane Chicago program that pairs military veterans struggling with post traumatic stress disorder with animals that had been abused, neglected or used for fighting.

After struggling with PTSD since his three-year tour in Vietnam from 1970-73, Howard began participating in VALOR in early 2015. His experience with the program was so positive that he decided to adopt a dog for himself, according to Cynthia Bathurst, the organization’s executive director.

In April 2015, Howard acquired Rugby, an 8-month old puppy who’d been rescued through Chicago Animal Care and Control. Howard renamed his new companion Apollo, and documented their experience together in a feature for The Unexpected Pit Bull’s 2016 annual calendar.
read more here

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Chicago Marine 7 Marathons for Chattanooga Slain Servicemembers

ABC News Chicago
By Ravi Baichwal
Wednesday, February 03, 2016

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A U.S. Marine from Chicago is back home after a whirlwind global tour with an athletic twist that might take a moment or two to sink in.

Daniel Cartica added more than 180 miles to his trip in one of the hardest ways you could imagine: seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.

Starting Saturday, January 23, day one was at Union Pass, Antarctica. From the icy course there, he hop-scotched the world to six other continents, finally finishing his amazing feat in Australia last Friday - and Cartica won the World Marathon Challenge in record time.

His trip around the world started at its bottom, Antarctica, then it was on to the Americas, over to Europe, down to Africa, across to the Middle East, then Down Under. Leading the pack in Antarctica was Cartica, a Marine who teaches at Northwestern University.

"I am always a guy who is trying to get out of his comfort zone," Cartica said.

That meant paying $23,000 for the chance to join a club more exclusive than Mount Everest climbers or the astronaut corps. After finishing, it was back into the group's Russian transport, where what little rest was to be gotten before the next marathon - in Punta Arenas, Chile.

"I wanted to do something for those family members of the servicemen that were killed," he said.

They were the five men who died in Chattanooga, Tenn., last July when they were ambushed by an armed gunman motivated, according to the FBI, by "foreign terrorist organization propaganda."
read more here

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Camera Catches Chicago Cop, Photo Goes Viral

Photo of Chicago Cop Buying Chipotle for Homeless Man Goes Viral
The Chicago Police Department saw the photo on Facebook when it went viral and recognized the officer as Sergeant B. Hagarty, a 35-year veteran of the force
NBC 5 Chicago
A photo circulating on social media that shows a veteran Chicago police officer buying Chipotle for a homeless man has gone viral, leading to a lengthy Facebook post from the Chicago Police Department thanking the officer for "leading by example."

The photo was originally posted by a woman named Rachel Mitchell, who saw the encounter at the Chipotle restaurant located at 1025 W. Belmont in Lakeview.

The Chicago Police Department has since shared the story, and their own post has been shared nearly 4,000 times in just over 12 hours. Additionally, more than 10,000 people "like" the post.
read more here

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Veterans, No Soup For You, Fundraisers Sucked Pot Dry

You are reading the work of a successful do'er and financial failure. Doing the work, I'm good at but I really suck at raising money to do it. I had to go back to work for a paycheck last year since no one has donated in over a year.

Anyway, there are more of "me types" out there doing the work for the sake of the work and not for money. It hurts when I have to file my financials and show a loss of a couple of thousand every year. What hurts more is when I read about charities using professional fundraisers leaving them with about 15 cents for every dollar given for the sake of veterans.

Donations to Illinois veterans charity mostly go to pay telemarketers
Chicago Tribune
David Jackson
August 31, 2015
A VietNow charity volunteer pushes a rack of boxes filled with hundreds of sandwiches bound for homeless people in Chicago on July 19, 2015, in Lombard.
(Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)
To address the profound and unmet needs of veterans, Americans last year donated $1.4 million to a Rockford charity called VietNow National Headquarters.

But most of the money — about 85 percent — went to for-profit phone solicitors, and most of the rest was spent on VietNow's own administrative costs and a convention, public tax filings show.

The fraction of donations spent on direct service to former military personnel and their families did not even reach 7 percent in 2014. The charity gives out scholarships to youths, but it reported only a handful, worth $3,985.

"It may not seem like much, but it's the best we could do. That's probably the best way to put it," said charity President Joe Lewis, who took the top office last year.

In all, more than 90 percent of the $24 million donated to VietNow since 2003 came through telemarketers who kept the lion's share, the Tribune found. After fielding questions from the Tribune, Lewis vowed to renegotiate VietNow's telemarketing contracts.

"I wish (critics) could show me another avenue or how to raise money that we could embrace that would provide us with the funds we need for our organization," Lewis said. "I understand from the public's perception how it seems like so little of it comes to us. Do I wish we could get more? Pardon the language but, hell yes."
Helping to manage all of VietNow's fundraising is Richard Troia, a longtime telemarketer who in 2004 was permanently banned from charity fundraising in Illinois.

Troia bought more than $1 million worth of office and residential property in Florida and launched a company called United Publishing Inc. that since 2009 has been listed as a registered agent for VietNow in that state, the Tribune found.
read more here