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The Veterans Support Organization

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Coronavirus Relief Food Banks, Food, Food Banks & Pantries, Homeless & Housing, Housing Support

Mission: Our mission is to honor america's veterans by supporting programs that provide employment, housing and financial assistance to prepare them for returning to society as productive citizens.

Programs: Work program: in most cases when a veteran is in need of financial assistance, it is due to lack of employment. The vso work program gives jobless veterans and other needy americans the opportunity to earn an income and regain financial independence free from government or private assistance and build self-esteem while helping fellow veterans in distress. The work program also brings veterans into contact with each other, helping establish a supportive network among the veterans we serve. Vso prefers to offer our veterans the opportunity to raise donations in lieu of hiring outside solicting firms which often charge hefty sums with little benefit. During 2014,approximately 680 veterans and needy americans participated in the vso work program.

veteran housing: the purpose of the veteran housing program is to provide sober, subsidized, transitional living for indigent veterans and to offer supportive services to help veterans recover from addiction and/or life's misfortunes quickly so they can return to a successful independent lifestyle. Unfortunately, the veteran housing program was terminated in february 2014.

grant program: the veterans support organization provides financial grants to veterans and leading veteran support agencies. We also donate non-monetary items to help improve the lives of veterans.

grant program: the veterans support organization provides financial grants to veterans and leading veteran support agencies. We also donate non- monetary items to help improve the lives of veterans.

Community Stories

46 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 Courage F.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

I researched this organization and they are a fraud. They have been kicked out of multiple states and told not to return. Their listed office building is not where they reside. I live in the same town and checked it out. This is not a legitimate non profit. Stay Away.

6 Scott116

Volunteer

Rating: 1

Well, I USED to work for them, in Georgia, and then in Fort Lauderdale. Though I may not agree with the methods used, I'm glad that they are being shut down. When I started, they had 25 chapters, and then they all started to shut down. From what my fellow Veterans told me, they are down to about 4 or 5 chapters total, and I won't be surprised if all of the chapters shut down for good, and Richard and Michelle end up in prison within the next couple of years either. Their lies are starting to catch up with them, as well as their methods of theft, etc. And, both of the ones that I worked in, shut down within 6 months of each other, and the reasons that they told us are not the truth. They was way behind on the rent on the (former) VSO in Snellville, like 6 months, and the same thing in Fort Lauderdale, where they was behind on the rent at the (former) Veterans New Life Haven. That name itself, sounds more like the name of a church, than a place for Veterans. I also found out from the VA that they was not legally allowed to charge us rent, but they did that anyways. Just like many things, and it is my understanding that the VSO, along with the owners, are not allowed to operate in the states of New York or Tennessee. Nor are the owners allowed in those states, for any reason at all. That's a shame that they thought that they could get away with this.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

I worked with this organization and they really are scumbags. The management deal drugs and help supply drugs to many of the Vets who work there. There were a select few of us that were very respectable not everyone that worked for VSO was a scumbag. I helped this group restructure their entire approach up until late 2011. I realized after putting over a hundred hours a week in and still working for commission only while my intellectual property was being used to pay high salaries to VSO executives and chapter managers. If I could afford representation I would put quite a few lawsuits on this group they also participate in character defaming and used race color creed and ethics to keep people within the organization divided and hateful toward each other. The organization after using my intelligence I provided for all of their chapters in social engineering for public presentation and public speaking thought they can just sweep Combat Veterans like me aside and rely on their Felony Drug addict constituents to keep the ball rolling. THEY WERE SEVERELY MIS-INFORMED. I lived homeless on the street half the time working with them and they were making money hand over fist. The only thing I can say that is good is that if a Veteran helped raise money they would get paid for it. However I did not agree with having non vets making money. If the Vets needed help making money by all means I am for it to help them financially. However they ran the organization like a mafia thug would run a gang. I purchased several things to help the rec center in MT Vernon NY we had. I helped them bring in the money to get that chapter started. I purchased band equipment and all kinds of things to put into the rec center they used as a front to show people. I had a radio show I wanted to contribute to bring in vets from college and give them internships in digital media. THE ONLY THING VSO DID IN RESPONSE WAS make me feel like I wanted to kill myself and felt like I was a nobody and nobody cared. they smashed the drum set I bought for the rec center and even lied to people about me claiming I was a recovering drug addict. Without me they would have never have gotten at least half of the ideas and information to help Vets which they never followed through on. They even used other people who looked like me to claim they were me in Connecticut getting people who know my name through my family to think I was running the chapter there. I would certainly testify against this organization to make sure anyone in their ranks never ripps off our veterans again. I have more dirt and eye witness facts which I reported countless times to the managers and the president and nothing was done. Well I feel that all of us Combat Veterans who worked for VSO should be compensated. They should pay us thirty percent of everything they brought in nationally for the time and duration we worked for them. Plus they should compensate us for damages that they caused psychologically. I never cared much about the money either that's why I just tried to move on. It just urks me that I have to have my name tied to them. I don't stand for what they did and continue to do. I don't need their money either however It would help me accomplish what I intended to do from the get go and that is to broadcast on behalf of our vets and raise support and awareness for our communities to grow stronger and offer internships as stepping stones to enable Vets and college students to gain practical work experience in digital media journalism broadcasting. I enjoy doing what I do on the air I invested over thirty thousand hours in public service broadcast hours alone since 2011. Imagine what impact I would have made for other Vets to get opportunity with me ... especially in NY. VSO had no regard for the gifts I gave from my heart to help people. Not to say I wont give up and I haven't. However they owe a great deal of gratitude for what people like me did for that organization to be what they were able to become. I played a major part in gaining support from key people in communities. They owe a great deal for most of the money they brought in and the reputation they had once to do so to me! I witnessed Richard Bittleman telling us he ran the NY CT and NJ chapter. I witnessed Bittleman counting money and recording the books. That number of 5.7 million dollars that year is probably about half of what we took in! I helped start half of their chapters on the east coast. Bittleman had a lot more to do with the money and running that organization in NY NJ CT than anyone in VSO. The leadership in that organization is a mafia type criminal enterprise.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been working for the VSO, since August of last year. I was down on my luck, trying to live off my disability pay (which, at that point was only $243.00 a MONTH!), about to give up on myself and my own life. I felt like no one cared. I connected the local DAV, who, in my state had one primary focus: transporting Veterans to/from their appointments at the VAMC, that was all I knew that they did. One of the members of the DAV bought me groceries a couple of times, but because I had no utilities at all for 9 months, anything cold had to be eaten by 3 days, or it would spoil. At that point, I would WALK 10 miles/day, to go use a computer at a local college library. The VSO was set up outside a local Sam's Club, and offered me a job AND housing. I discussed this with the DAV, they basically turned me over to the VSO July of last year. They contacted the Chapter Manager on a Sunday, and they was impressed with the fact that the Chapter Manager was willing to drive up to meet me, and I began to fill out all the required paperwork. Within 3 days, I had a room at the VSO house in Snellville, and started working with the VSO. I was without a job for over 2 years, figuring with several years of experience within the retail environment, I would have no problem finding a job anywhere. Guess what? WRONG ANSWER!!

My two brothers and I lost our Mom to cancer on December 7, 2010. I was working at a Kmart in Athens, GA., and relocated to be closer to my family. I would research employment daily, go to the Department of Labor (either the office or the website), put in several applications/resumes within my qualifications, and wasted my time for over 2+ years. The VSO offered me a place to stay, all utilities that I was without for 9 months is included in the rent, plus a rewarding job. I was excited!

When I began to work for the VSO, yes, we was paid commission, but we changed that last October. We get paid every 2 weeks, via Direct Deposit, minimum wage. If we collect starting over a certain amount, we either get a bonus or overtime, which ever pays more. We had a representative from the Department of Labor come to our office every other Thursday, to help us with employment outside of the VSO, some of my coworkers took this opportunity, and have been employed with rewarding careers, and left the organization completely. It met their needs.

Yes, people with little or no knowledge will complain about us, and other Veteran related organizations. I've seen it first hand, I've experienced things myself. Each State has policies that govern how, where, when we can collect donations. In Georgia, each binder has all the required documentations we are required by law, to carry on our person every location that we collect at. We had a Certification of Authority, that allowed us to collect donations in Georgia. We did out of town road trips for a couple days per month, so we can collect in various cities in Georgia, we all had our store sheets, with approval to be at whatever location we was at. For example, I can't just set up my bucket at say a grocery store in Brunswick, GA. We have permission from the management, it is on the store sheet, usually two weeks in advance. There is a LOT that goes into what we do, that you won't see, unless you are at the offices itself. There is a LOT of "behind the scenes" work that goes on, that helps each worker out. Last year, at two malls, we had to pay to rent out a table inside the mall, not only to collect donations, but to ask people to sign Christmas Cards for hospitalized Veterans. No one saw our Chapter Manager, along with one of our room mates, and I go to the VAMC in Dublin, GA, except for the Veterans who was there, and the staff at this hospital. We passed out Christmas Presents, along with the signed Christmas Cards, to the Veterans there. If you could see the faces of the Veterans at the hospital, you would know what it was like. Trust me, seeing their eyes swell up, tears rolling off their faces, because people wrote to them on the cards. It is an experience that I will never forget.

Fast forward to February of 2013. One of my friends has an organization located in South Georgia, within less than a month, they responded to roughly 5 house fires. I asked my friend if anybody affected by these fires are a Veteran or not. She replied that at that point she didn't know, but they had to leave, to respond to a house fire. Four hours later, she came back online, and told me that the fire that they just responded to belonged to a 63 year old female Marine (USMC) Veteran, who was taking care of her 12 year old grandson and 13 year old granddaughter. I asked her if the Red Cross did anything at all to help them out, she said, "Yes...they put them up in a motel room for 3 days, and after that, they are own their own." I'm thinking, "Really? Three days? That gives them enough time to do WHAT exactly? Find a place to live just by snapping their fingers?"
So, I went to our VSO Office, on a day off, and discussed the situation with my Chapter Manager. He was upset, because, due to people misusing funds provided by grants, we can't offer grants at that time period (we went from grants to gift program around mid-January of 2013, I'm not sure IF we offer grants at this point or not, I'm the wrong person to ask about that, sorry. I'm just being honest here).
I was like, dude, we got all these boxes and bags all over the place, just sitting here. We can do something with that, and he agreed! I called my fiance, and also my friend, to tell them we can help them with clothes! I was given their clothes sizes per person, and a friend/coworker and I started our mission to find everything to get them back on their feet, just with clothes! We also found back packs for the children, one of them got a soccer ball, the other one got a puzzle! It was just something small to help them get their minds of the house fire, so they can have fun! Two days later, after I washed and dried all the clothes, we was on our way towards the Brunswick/Jesup area of Georgia, not only to work, but for me to give the boxes of clothes to my friends, so they can give them to this family.

How many of you reading this knew that we did that? Okay then, now you do!

Sadly to say, due to our New Chapter Manager not really doing his job, we had to temporarily shut our chapter down in Georgia, it will reopen sometime in the upcoming year, and I hope to be there when it does! However, for me, a Disabled Navy Veteran, I went from living in the VSO House in Georgia, to residing in the Veterans New Life Haven in Fort Lauderdale. All of us in the Georgia Chapter had an option of moving here, keeping our jobs, and STILL have a place to stay, OR we can collect unemployment. I did NOT want to be back living on the streets until my disability pay arrived (even though it was via Direct Deposit, it was 2 days AFTER the date we had to make up our minds), not even for 2 days. I wanted to remain with the VSO, live here in Florida, and gain more learning experience as I work behind the bucket.

I've seen a LOT of people's lives changed for the better, go from homelessness and hopelessness to having their pride restored...A pride they once had and lost...I know this firsthand, because I USED to be one of them myself, but thanks to the VSO, not anymore!! I love what I do, I love to interact with others, I get to travel, which was similar to being in the Navy all over again! If you was to see me a couple years ago, I had no pride. I didn't care anymore, I was about to give up. Thank you for being there for me, when I needed someone.

And, possibly another thing that you may/may not know:

Before anyone can work for the VSO, they have to pass a drug test. Sometimes we are randomly tested. I've done this a couple times here and there, and of course, I passed the tests. Just like I did when it was a requirement in the Military. True, not everyone who works for the VSO is a Veteran, however, pretty much most, if not all of the Non-Veterans has someone in their family who was, or currently is, in the Military. On our required name tags, it has the VSO logo, our name, and if we are a Veteran, it states which branch of the Military we served in; otherwise it will say NON-VETERAN on the name tags. We do NOT use the id tags from the VA, that is illegal. We do what is required by the laws (which may vary per state, and even two different cities) everything we are supposed to do. In our binders, we have what we simply call a "pie chart," it tells you right there how much of the donations goes towards what.

The VSO doesn't hire anyone outside the VSO to represent us. Why should we pay a professional solicitation company to do what we do? That would mean a LOT of what we collect goes to that. We don't mail anything out, we don't pay entertainers to do a commercial for us, and we don't need to. We are doing this four days a week, in front of preapproved locations, so we can earn some source of income. It has helped me out a lot. Since working with the VSO, I paid off a laptop that I purchased from Aaron's rental. I got a much better cell phone that meets my personal needs (with the money I get paid from working). I bought my fiance a tablet pc recently, and mailed it to her a couple weeks ago. Since I am diabetic, I have to have certain foods, which is usually costlier than what I can't eat, and I have had to go to various VA Clinics and Hospitals, because I wasn't taking care of my health as I should have. That was MY fault, I take the responsibility and the actions for it myself. Guess what? My Chapter Manager, along with Richard VanHouten (the President/Founder of the VSO), and Justin Wells (the Director of Operations for the VSO), was very concerned about my health. They was telling me that I should go to the VA Clinic or Hospital, so I can focus on my health, and not worry about work. It showed me right then and there that they are very understanding, down to earth people. They wanted me to put my own needs first, and not worry about anything else. It will take care of itself.

So, in my time with the VSO, I've come to realize some things:

We are here for Veterans. Our primary focus is on homeless Veterans, but we want to help you and your family out. We have no membership costs either, so don't worry about that!

It doesn't matter if you are: a Homeless Veteran, a Disabled Veteran, a Wounded Veteran, it doesn't matter what war you fought in, if you're a combat Veteran or not. What matters to the VSO more than anything else is: you are a Veteran. That's it. It doesn't get any more easier than that.

About the Veterans New Life Haven:

It is a 100+ bed facility for Veterans, regardless if you are a female or male Veteran, it's there for you, to help you get off the streets, and back into the workforce. If you are struggling with addictions, of any kind, we have great state members who can assist you with that! You don't have to pay rent at all for the first week. Part of the donations cover that. If you don't have a job, then talk to the counselor here, she can help you or point you in the right direction. That's what we are here for - we are here for our VETERANS!!

One thing I love about the founder of the VSO is, as soon as a problem arises, he does what is needed to correct it, as fast as he can. He can't be everywhere at once at all, no one can, but he takes the correct measures to do what he can to fix and resolve all these issues. We have helped out with the Camp Trotter for Kids in the past, with money collected from donations. Last year, the Georgia Chapter gave the Commander of the DAV an motorized wheelchair that was donated to us. They had a use for it, we didn't. We just had what they needed. We don't bad mouth other organizations, and if they have any problems with us let's resolve it as soon as we can. Don't waste precious time on what doesn't matter, let's work together as Veterans, so we can help as many Veterans as we can. That's more important, don't you agree?

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

The Veterans Support came into Caldwell County, North Carolina and started collecting funds for non state Veterans without contacting any of the Veterans Organizations, VFW, DAV, etc. We believe in making donations to take care of Veterans in our County and our State. Unless you are specifically helping our organizations in our counties and state; STAY OUT!!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been lucky enough to be given a job by VSO. I was on the brink of losing my house because no one wanted a Vet with PTSD working for them. But after sitting down with the Founder of VSO, I explained that I was a disabled veteran who had mental and physical injuries that kept me from normal employment. He and his staff welcomed me with open arms and gave me the opportunity to provide for my wife and child. I have seen how hard uneducated individuals try to bash the name of VSO through opinions.

"well I looked you up on the interned and saw an article stating you were a fraud."
Ha, well congratulations on looking at an outdated article and having a journalist make up your mind. I promise you, If you research VSO that you will find bad press. But look at the dates, and ask some damn questions. I cannot find a current article bashing VSO, the closest is from over a year ago (and the problems pointed out have been fixed and SOPs have been put in place to make sure they never happen again.)

Ask yourself this: If the Veterans Support Organization was a fraudulent non-profit, then how would we be in business for over 10 years, why would over 50 VAs rave about how we help their local veterans though donations, why would the IRS (as of a 2012 Audit) say that we passed with flying colors and should keep on doing what we are doing, how were we able to give over 400 veterans jobs in 2012, how are we able to house nearly 150 HOMELESS VETERANS.?

Too many people are not taking the time to ask the right questions,. We give 70% of the money we raise to our IN HOUSE PROGRAMS. we house veterans, we give them jobs as a stepping stone for better opportunities, we hove item/gift card donations to the VA and even have a grant program for vets in need. I have seen first hand how VSO helps veterans. I would have lost my home marriage and possibly my life if not given the opportunity to better myself.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 2

I am a MC Vietnam Veteran and former police officer. I have worked for VSO and found the management to be suspect and shady. Most of these managers seem to be unorganized and disrespectful to the very veterans they have entrusted to collect donations and promote this charity. Noone in the management or collectors have been given any insight on what this organization is about other than it just helps. These homeless vets are clueless and meant to stay that way, just happy to have shelter. No support for any upward mobility is given, working 12 hrs a day and even violating Wage and Hour laws. Forced work for simple shelter.

3 Samson F.

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I work For VSO and I'm in a quandary. I have asked for proof that we are actually helping Homeless Vets. Our Work Program is supposed to be entirely Homeless Vets, It ain't. But a good thing is the civilians don't last long but The Regional Manager( A Liar In His own right) is not going to the places that homeless vet hang to find workers. I believe he's too lazy. I've Said many times where he should look,now he's telling me I have a bad attitude, sends me to lousy locations And gives me grief. Folks, We (the collectors are not the bad guys, it's Ed Harris And Richard Van Houten.) So much more could be done, but they won't do it. There are far worse charities than us(Salvation Army, United Way) But we are chapters serving a region, that cuts down on overhead. The VA approves of us but that's like Satan Approving Hitler. The VA doesn't care about Vets, just keeping their jobs.And I'm afraid VSO feels the same

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was one unemployment check away from being on the street when I saw an add for Veterans support Orginization needing Veterans with a good driving record I responded to the add on a monday and by that following monday I was brought on board. I am a veteran and I would be on the street now If it was not for VSO. I spend four days a week standing at the donation table 8-10 hours a day , for those who complain about this organization they do not have all the facts and most of the complaints are over several years old. up to speed and check us out today.

3 avetproject

Volunteer

Rating: 5

VSO has been helping AVET Project military families in need for a few years now. When we have been in a bind, VSO has been there to help when no other veteran organizations could or would. Every request for support has been answered with a Big YES. Please show your support for VSO and Together we can help more.

Review from Guidestar

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

Congressmen, Senators and Governors’, and even the greatest president, (Obama & Carter).

I ‘am a disabled veteran, honorably discharged. Having served in the
U.S.Army and obtained a secret security clearance with a Top secret Need to know.

I flew in a Twin Turbo Prop secret Plane that never existed, that went to places I have never been to, and operated cameras that have never been invented.

After I was presented with the opportunity of being a Color & Honor guard for President Carter (circa 1978) I left the army, with a service connected disability.

In Basic training I received an accelerated promotion; the reason was because of helping others. I became an E-2 that made me proud.
In AIT, advanced training I was assigned a squad leader. I was trained to fly in the Army; the Grumman OV-1 Mohawk is an armed military observation and attack aircraft, designed for battlefield surveillance and light strike capabilities. It is of twin turboprop configuration, and carried two crewmembers with side by side seating. The Mohawk was intended to operate from short, unimproved runways in support of United States Army maneuver forces.Sometimes we flew as high as 30 thousand feet, other times we flew as low as 10 feet, hence the cactus painted on the sides of our aircraft.
I have stated my service and quality’s, and honors, yet some are still confidential.


In late 2006 I lost my mother Carolyn (Dr. of Divinity) and later my grandmother, shortly afterwards I also lost my 1st wife. I became severely depressed and did not want to live.

Because of injury’s service connected I could not walk

In 2007 I discovered the Veterans Support Organization, who helped me dearly.

Actually Richard and Justin saved my life, both of them veterans,
BROTHERS IN ARMS,

While I was involved with V.S.O., I witnessed the organization helping veterans, many times.

One time in south Florida a veteran approached me and explained his wife & child would be evicted from a hotel, I replied “Call Rich” he is a good guy and will help you!

Within an hour, after Rich had me check his V.A. ID card, and then he went over to western Union to get a money order, they were ok.

This is one of many times I have witnessed the V.S.O. (& Richard & Justin) help others.
Recently my refrigerator went out and I need to keep my breathing medicine cool.
Justin had an older, but adequate donated refrigerator delivered. & saved my life, as the VSO does every day for others.

Richard and Justin have my phone number, if you want to question me about anything. (Applies to veterans who need help and congress/senators/presidents).
CALL ME!

As I have stated earlier, the VSO is helping others, they are great & right.
I stand by what I have said.

GOD BLESSES ALL VETERANS & AMERICA!



Review from Guidestar

7 ThomasT

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a 59 year old man who became unemployed last summer. I roamed around the country, living out of my '89 truck full of all my belongings, looking to find a job. I was down to my last $20 near Austin, Texas when I came across a VSO table set up outside a restaurant. The young lady working at the table gave me a card and assured me I could go to work for the VSO in Austin. I went by the next day and started working immediately with them. That night I moved into their house in Austin and have been working with them ever since. I am a veteran and , as far as I am concerned, the VSO are life-savers! Thank You VSO!!

10

Donor

Rating: 4

I recently made a donation while another person was making a scene about this group and it being investigated. I looked for remarks on this web site and found that someone had posted that the VSO was being investigated in several states, including mine, Virginia. I researched this and even called the state licensing to find out. What I was told by the state of Virginia was that there were no complaints on file or none ever filed that would warrant any investigation. There seem to be a handfull of Veterans from other organization that feel that they are losing money because of this group. Look at the mission statement for every major veteran org and tell me who looks out for the homeless veteran and who looks out for their membership. I did. By the way, what is wrong with hiring a homeless veteran or a veteran that just has no job.

9

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

This organization is a 100% fraud. I am a former Work Program Participate as they claim all their employees to be (so they can say the 30% - 35% that the person standing there collecting the money gets can say goes to Veterans) and even was offered a position into their management. I can assure you that they are indeed a LEGAL scam (Legal US Non-Profit Organization) and it's all a get rich scheme for their management and higher ups by using us Veterans as pawns. I have written an article about the Veteran's Support Organization "VSO" that is hitting the news soon. I will be doing an interview on 60 Minutes (T.V. show) and WNBC (Myrtle Beach, SC) because I have physical evidence showing what a scam they are. If you would like a copy of my article (Including the Evidence) that the VSO is a scam please send me an email to [email protected] People ask me why I didn't take the management position because of all the money I would of been making but the fact is when I found out they were a scam I wanted nothing to do with them because they are deceiving the American people especially in today's economy and I wouldn't be comfortable with accepting "Stolen Money" as pay. I was a Military Police Officer in the US Army and have more Integrity than that.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The veterans support organization from my opinion is a great group. my father and I where living in his storage until my dad contacted this organization. the following monday we where in a hotel and two weeks later we had an apartment. i think if this what instantly helps vets get on there feet then im all for it

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I have been an Area Commander with the American Legion, a member of the VFW and a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America. While Commander I came in contact with the VSO group and was very suspicious of the. I had them researched abd had the American Legion look into their finances to find that they were doing things correctly. If you look at the mission statements of the Legion, VFW, DAV and the Vietnam Veterans of America you will see that none of them show interest in our "Homeless" Veterans. The only organization that specifically targets "Homeless" veterans is the VSO. They hire "Homeless" Veterans and pay them to help and I am OK with that. Why not hire these Veterans instead of leaving them on unemployment, welfare or even leave them in the street. Someone needs to help our Veterans and they are so why would anyone object to "Homeless" veterans having an opportunity to get off the street and to get paid.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 1

Veterans Service Organization or VSO, Give me a break...their manager is a CONVICTED CON ARTIST! Look here! DO NOT give them money. It goes into the pockets of the people collecting it and their leader made over 200 thousand last year!!!!!!!!

http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/shame/veterans-support-organization-20110203

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was just reading a few reviews on different veterans groups and ran across one from jerryd15.I took your advice and looked up the groups he listed..... Nothing was found.HMM?My father was a member of 4 of the groups listed and Im speaking from first hand experience when I say that when he needed help that VSO was there.The other 4 groups that he paid dues to for decades never even returned his calls.I have been told personally "If your not a member,We cant help you"....That didnt make much sense to me.I thought that a veterans group was supposed to help ALL veterans,not just members of thier private club.I have ran across articles where VSO has even been helping these volunteer groups when they are struggling.It seems to me that the VSO is willing to help ALL veterans AND these so called volunteer groups.The other thing that I wonder about is if theses groups are giving back 100% who pays for the gas,lights,phones,internet,office space,literature or any of the T-shirts,flags or other trinkets that they are handing out???I think what jerry meant to say was that they give back 100% of PROCEEDS...thats whats left over when these items are paid for.I geuss VSO could say that too,but it would be misleading.I see VSO gave $10,000 to VFW national to support camp trotter for the kids of veterans too.I also found that VSO gave back over 4.9 million dollars last year,the way I found out was by asking to see the financials or an audit report.They had no problem providing it either.When I asked another group about thier financials the response was not what I expected to hear.It seems to me that VSO is pretty transparent.They care about the veterans and the struggles that face them after they return home.Why am I defending VSO?Because they have been there for Me,my Father,My uncle and many of my friends.THATS THE FACT JACK.
As far as the fundraisers getting paid 30%.....Its a work program to help vets keep the roof over thier head while they try to find work.Is it better to give a man a fish to eat for a day,or teach him how to fish to eat for the rest of his life?Sorry but I dont see anything wrong with a vet getting paid while he is also helping other vets and informing them about the grants VSO gives out.If you have a vet out of work or waiting on benefits how much good is it to pay his rent this month and him not have a way to pay it next month?I dont know if people who havent done proper research realize that when they slander other groups that they are hurting veterans not helping them.If they are out for the same true cause why dont they work together for that cause,seems like it would make a bigger impact on the problem.So by all means look up these other groups on guidestar,I couldnt find ANYTHING.It really makes me wonder whos helping and how much they are helping.I would like to see these groups united I feel like these young vets coming back deserve all the help we can give after so many deployments.FYI 19 a day take thier own life at the average age of 24...Think about that for a moment,The hiighest rate ever.GOD BLESS AMERICA.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

A Fraud pretending to help Veteran's.

Less than 15% of what they collect is dedicated to help veterans.

The solicitors get to keep 30% of what they collect.

The solicitors are supposed to be "homeless vets" but less than 1/2 are veterans.

They are under investigation in Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, Rhode Island, New York and Pennsylvania.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

This group parades around as veterans and that is the reason people donate easily to them. The are all paid from the collectors to the CEO. Any legitimate veterans organization will accept donations and 100% of it will go to the veterans.
Look up American Legion, VFW, DAV, Amvets, Marine Corps League.and VVA in your phone book and send them a check. Or talk to a neighbor they may belong to one of these veterans organizations that are all about helping veterans and all volunteer.

Review from Guidestar

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have personally had experience with this group. I have donated to them and done background research about them. I also have called the West Palm Beach and the person I talked to raved about the Veterans Support Organization. I asked her about the 2 other veterans groups in South Florida and she had issues with those groups. 86% is awesome and I have seen them help a veteran first hand. Thanks VETERANS SUPPORT ORGANIZATION and keep up the good work

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I really am impressed on how much this veterans organization REALLY helps our American heros! As a professional that knows alot about non-profits I do have to say that they cross all the t's and dot all there i's which alot of organiation DON'T do and they don't have to. They have gone out of their way to educate the public on everything the VSO does and also they do give out their financials. Their organization has opened their doors and books to everyone and anyone interested or that has a problem on what they do for those that really wants to see what, when why, how and I don't hear this from any other organizations.
They have helped our american heros in so many ways. Everyone reads the bad and runs with it but if you take the time to read the good maybe you will see that they really do help our veterans. See for yourself and take the time to investigate and educate yourself before you make pass judgment. 86% is awesome and keep up the wonderful work you do for our American heros, our veterans....
God Bless...

Previous Stories
1

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a very proud donor & supporter of this awesome organization! I believe that I live a free life because of these past, present & future veterans. This organization does what it says and I know because my brother wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the VSO!! Just think-there is a war still going on and these guys & gals come back with all kinds of problems and they fix their problems but then there comes another issue- unemployed veterans. No one wants to hire these veterans that have fought for our freedom so they are stuck. The VSO gives them stableness & their dignity back. My brother is in their work program and back with his family because of the VSO. Keep up the awesome work!!

Review from Guidestar

1

Donor

Rating: 1

Im seventeen and I absolutely adore veterans and whenever I see these guys, dressed in what SEEMS to be military uniform, my face lightens up and my heart skips beat. These guys are supposed to be the defenders of our nation, but they are actually frauds and con artists. just yesterday I had asked them for a VSO packet so that a few friends and i could volunteer at their thrift store, and hopefully impact their lives. But today, I googled their organization to learn how to properly sign up to volunteer and I came across this MyFox news report on how the organization is corrupt and practically all the money goes to their selfish pockets. They are not even veterans and yknow, it just sucks to be so misled like that, especially through these once admiring eyes. Thanks guys):

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Please tell me why an organization from Florida is set up outside grocery stores here in MA that does not seem right to me. The veterans they have solicting the donations are actually paid 30% of everything they collect!!! Now I can understand helping veterans in need and putting them to work, but come on 30% is kind of ridiculous

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 4

VSO has hit the mark of 86% back to the veterans of every dollar raised.These figures have be documented by a outside certified audit done on the VSO.The 86% is to include the homeless and or struggling americans that raise the donation.VSO has a work program that provides struggling americans to raise donations to help themselves while helping other veterans.VSO will not hire professional solicitors to raise the donations and keep most of it. A lot of other non profits hire professional solicitors from outside companies to raise donations for them but the problem is the company they hire keep most of the donation.We at the VSO do not like that,we think it is wrong. So that is why we have this work program. Again when a donor donates to the VSO you are not giving your donation to a hired professional, you are giving your donation to someone who will be helped with part of your donation that is struggling now in their life.When a donor donates to one of VSO particapants, they are helping that person and at the same time helping other veterans.Please do check out the VSO and see what you find. I am pretty sure you will be very happy what and how VSO operates.I will recomend that all donors do not donate to a group unless you check them out.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I first encountered VSO about three years ago and when I found out the fundraisers got paid I kind of questioned that.But the more I dug in past the mud slinging from other groups who dont seem to be doing as much,it makes perfect sense.When they give a VET a grant to pay his rent they offer him a way to pay it next month while he/she spreads the word about the grant program.When my dad a vietnam vet,fell and needed some guidance getting some home health care I called the GA.office and in less than 24hrs. they wired him $300 to pay someone to help him until we could get some help set up through the VA.Thats a pretty dog on fast response to a vet in need.Dad had called 2 other groups he had been a member of for decades....He passed away in Sept...they still havent returned his calls.It seems to me if these groups stop slinging mud at each other and worked together a lot more good could be done for Americas Finest.As far as paying a homeless vet to help other vets,what could be a better job?He rebuilds his dignity while saving money to support his/herself,instead of being a burden on our governments social services.Dont we have enough of that going on?Give a man a fish he eats for a day,teach him how to fish and he feeds his self a lifetime.All I have to say about VSO and what Ive seen them do for vets is HOOAAH!!!

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

My experience with this organization has been wonderful. I was a struggling vet my self who was on the brink of being homeless and this organization assisted me. The things that I have seen this organization do has almost brought me into tears.

Review from Guidestar

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

Veterans Support Organization. They were in the Dover Mall this past Christmas and have been set up at the Camden Wal-Mart this week collecting CASH or CHECK donations. I had some reservations about the group (they wear BDU's with service emblem hats and black combat boots) and the "Vets" didn't appear or sound legit when I asked a few questions about what they did or where they served. But, when I discovered they were back and now at Wal-Mart, I wanted to dig a little further.

An Internet search was very eye opening.
#1- On their own site, www.TheVeteransSupport.Org. Their financial report for 2009 shows 35% of the money collected went to management expenses, over 800K.

#2- The cards they hand out claim they are serving Vets in Delaware and Maryland. However; Delaware is spelled wrong on the card, the toll-free number is for a NY or PA branch and their own web site does not list any active services provides to Delaware Vets.

#3- This organization IS NOT on the list of Congressionally-chartered Veteran Service/Support organizations. Additionally, the are NOT listed on the National Resource Directory for approved Veterans Service Organizations.

#4- Some of the people they use at their collections points are NOT veterans of the US military. In fact, according to news reports I found on the Internet, some of these people are convicted criminals. Even more upsetting, these "vets" at the collection buckets are paid 25-30 percent of the money they collect each day. That's right, heart-felt donations from hard working people are "skimmed" off the top before they even have a chance to help a real Vet. Of the two "vets" working at Wal-Mart today, one admitted he is not a vet (while wearing a Red Marine Corps baseball hat and BDU's) and the other one would not answer my questions.


#5- They are using the word "Vet" or "VSO" as a marketing tool. Using these titles, they are preying on the public's admiration of the military and desire to support our troops. This organization is using this level of trust and respect for Vets and the real USO to siphon away money that could be going to local groups that actually support Delaware veterans.

#6- A Fox News New York investigation uncovered even mor. Use this link to verify this info. http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/shame/veterans-support-organization-20110203


I am passionate about supporting our troops and I get personally offended when I see groups like this, taking advantage of people and using the titles of honor and respect for personal gain.


Thanks for listening, for caring and shining a light on this shameful group. Dennis Desilet

Review from Guidestar

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

ATTENTION VIETNAM VETERANS MC: THIS VSO GROUP IS A DECEIT SCAM RIPPING OFF VOLUNTEERS AND MOST OF THE DONATIONS THEY SOLICIT IN THE NAME OF VETERANS. KEY FIGURES IN THEIR ORGANIZATION ARE PROFESSIONAL CON ARTISTS, SOME WITH RELATED CRIMINAL RECORDS. SEE: http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/shame/veterans-support-organization-20110203

Review from Guidestar

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

This group is not a Veterans group. One guy told me that he is serving in the US Army as a "Full Bird Colonel". Today one of their people told me that he was in the US Army Green Berets and when I asked him what rank was he, this little so and so told me that it is classified! I was a Major in the Australian Special Forces and I can tell you that this guy WAS NOT in any way in the US Army Green Berets. I contacted the American Legion HQ in Texas and the bloke I talked to told me that he knows all about the VSO. I also talked to the VFW national HQ and they said the same thing.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I joined the Texas Chapter of The VSO earlier this year. At the time, I knew nothing of the Organization. In the short time I've been a part of the Organization, I've met and spoken to many of great people. Veterans that have served our Country and non-veterans that have such huge hearts that give their time and attention to our veterans. I work with veterans and non-veterans that have struggled in life. The best part of this Organization, in my opinion, is that it offers a work program. This program is for anyone having difficulties, who want to improve their own personal finances while at the same time help our needy veterans. I've seen first hand, people taken off the street and given a place to stay. I believe whole heartedly in this Organization. The help it provides to people and the love to our veterans, past and present. Being a part of VSO has opened my eyes to how much people really do need help and aren't just looking for hand outs. This Organization is great and I'm honored to be a part of it.

Review from Guidestar

3

Donor

Rating: 4

I was a little reluctant to donate until I got talking with this group. They took the time to show and explain to me what they do and how they do it. By the time I left them I was completely satisfied with all of the information given to me and recomend everybody to help this organization out. They are doing great things for the local communities.

Review from Guidestar

6

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've heard countless stories on how the VSO has helped from suicide prevention, to jobs for the chronically unemployed veteran, and emergency assistance at the VA hospitals through volunteer services. All of this without any grants or government help. It doesn't get much better than the VSO.

Review from Guidestar

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

This organization is Great. It Helps The VA with Programs through the Voluntary Services department. It helps other Veterans groups when they need it. "I have seen it first hand." They have a great transitional housing program where I have met Great people and seen great success from these Veterans that have entered this program. The work program has personally helped me through tough times while I was on medical leave and when I was medically discharged from the Coast Guard. It is a Great Program and I would recommend it to any Veteran that is struggling to make ends meet. The Organization also has a grant program set up through the VA's to help with there Deliquient utility bills, rent or Mortgages.

Review from Guidestar

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was looking for a job and I contacted Mr. Tim Thacker of the Veterans Support Organization and he told me at the time that I called that there was nothing available. Since then, I have came to work for this organization and I can truly say that this is a one of the finest if not the best organization that I have worked for,due to the fact that they really care about the welfare of the veterans. I am truly thankful for the chance to work for a outstanding place.

Review from Guidestar

5

Volunteer

Rating: 4

My stepdad asked me to help out a charity. I saw these guys working at a store and they explained what they do. I asked if I could help out. On the big day I got to hand out over 100 new jackets to some really sad homeless veterans. The look on their faces was something I will never forget. Some of the guys cried and I felt good. I am going to try and help out more if they let me.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son was in recovery and needed a job. He looked everywhere. He went to all the veterans groups for help. No one wanted to give him a chance. This was a couple years ago. Today he is working for VSO in that area helping vets with recovery issues and has been doing better than ever. Every other group always says we help more, we don't get paid. HA, try and get help from them. This group changed my sons life, gave him a direction, guidance and emplyment. They have given over 300 vets a change to earn a living and these are lives touched and changed. How many lives have parades changed.

6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I saw the group first in FL then they showed up in NY in my area. I started doing research. I cntacted the VA Vol Service Division in Miami, then in NYC. They both gave them A Plus. Then I started loking at the web. Very mixed reviews. I have worked with non-profit groups for years in substance abuse and am seeing more and more vets. We need lots of help in serving that population. I ultimately contacted the group for a grant for a vet needing financial assistance in housing post treatment. They came through in 3 days with a check for this vet. No other group I called gave one penny and most did not even call back.

Review from Guidestar

5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

The VSO has provided a tremendous service to disadvantaged and disenfranchised veterans in the South Florida area, particularly where it concerns those who have been regularly discarded by so-called "mainstream" society. Richard VanHouten's work with the homeless, the downtrodden and the chemically addicted, to bring them back to health and society, has been nothing short of a miracle. Local news media agree, too, since he was showcased on the local NBC-owned station, Channel 6, recently.

Review from Guidestar

5

Donor

Rating: 2

i do not see any info on here or charity navigator that states any financial info that shows percentages of money spent on: veterans, fundraising, management salary, etc. why would i donate to an organization that doesn't share this info with these charity comparison sites? i did give $2 since that's all i had. i wouldn't have if i saw how unavailable the info was.

Review from Guidestar

6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

This "charity" FRAUD is based in Warwick, RI with Officers/Directors clustered around Margate and Lauderhill, FL. I encountered them soliciting cash in NY. The paid "Manager" hires street people in Brooklyn who keep 30% of what they collect. He drives them to locations, usually outside malls or supermarkets. The "charity" spent $21,000+ on "uniforms" last year - - - they dress these street people collectors up in Army Uniforms to get sympathy from suckers who drop dollars in their bucket. They state they work in RI, GA and FL. They were collecting in New York. No one in NY Vets Adm Hq has heard of them. Same for RI. They line the pockets of the Directors in FL. The $2 million plus they reported in 2009 saw "donations" of less than 20% of income spent on charity. 80% of their income wasted on salaries of $100,000+ and almost $100,000 in cars, and travel and entertainment expenses. And they put on uniforms as part of the scam!!! I have asked the NY Atty General to investigate them. Check out their filed reports in NY on the Atty General website, it spells out all the names, addresses, who gets paid and how much money they use to line their pockets. Oh yeah, the "thrift store" they brag about wasn't even opened in September 2009 - it's in the report. Tell your friends, Vets Organizations and your local law enforcement about these 21st century grifters. SHAME ON THEM!

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Not buyin it. Sorry. Try harder. A US senator says you're shady. Your BBB ratings don't add up (or even SHOW up!) even though you have it copied and pasted on your site...you're shady and we're writing about it.

Review from Guidestar

6

Board Member

Rating: 4

veterans support organization is a great group if you see the facts you will be amazed.V.S.O has had an outside cetified public audit 2 years (2008-2009)and gave back 65% of every dollar raised to the veterans,and this is a fact.V.S.O has the largest homeless veteran transitional housing in broward county FL called Veterans new life haven,that houses 130 veterans,and is available to veterans nationwide.V.S.O also has a thrift store that is ran by only veterans from new life haven.

6

Former staff

Rating: 5

I was involved with them in FLA running a homeless sober shelter fof them. I have seen what they do. They save veterans lives.I have never seen another group do as much for the veterans lives they help. I do not understand all the 990 stuff, but I saw how they cared and saved over a dozens vets lives ready to kill themselves. What is the value of that?

9

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

This organization set up a table at a local grocery store to receive donations. I spent time researching their 990 tax return and spoke with the countywide Dept. of Veterans Affairs Health Care for Homeless Veterans officers. The VA has no contact with the non-profit and they have not provided any service to any veterans or veterans organization that anyone is aware of. Their 990 shows they collected over 1 million dollars but only 90,000 actally went to veterans in need. The rest was for subcontractors, fundraising expenses and board member expenses. That is 9 cents on the dollar and unexceptable behavior for an agency who professes to help veterans.