(WTNH) -- For the second time in a week, a phony veterans service organization has been exposed.
When Connecticut veterans march in parades on Veteran's Day and other patriotic holidays it's an outward public showing of our appreciation for their service. When the various veteran's service associations solicit outside local supermarkets a lot of people pitch in. However, some of those solicitors appear to be phony.
"We had a number of complaints that came in from our own members that were running into these people at local Walmarts and Stop and Shops," said Mel Hewston, a former commander and member of the Connecticut Veterans Of Foreign Wars (VFW).
"We discovered, through word of mouth, that very little of this money was going to veterans," said Commander John Hollis, who is also a VFW member.
Those in front of the stores were apparently paid solicitors, not veterans, coming from the Veterans Support Organization that touts on its website that contributions go to rehab programs, housing and employment aid for veterans.
However a Federal Trade Commission investigation of the organization has found that IRS filings for 2009 show that the Veterans Support Organization received close to $6 million in donations that year, yet only $379,000 went to assist veterans, a paltry 6.5% of what they collected.
"We had a problem with that because we put veterans that served this great nation in front of those stores and solicit funds that we put back into veterans," Hollis said.
On Thursday, the Connecticut VFW got the word that someone in Washington had heard their complaints.
"This organization... has been suspended," said Senator Dick Blumenthal. "It has been severed, at least for now, from membership in the National Advisory Council because of the complaints."
Senator Blumenthal told the group that because of their complaints, the Veterans Administration is now going to establish a task force to write standards that must be achieved by organizations that claim to help veterans.
Earlier this week, ABC News exposed a group called Help Hospitalized Veterans for spending millions on golf club memberships and big salaries instead of helping veterans.
Click here to see a list of approved veterans charities.
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