SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio is home to thousands of current military men and women and thousands of veterans.
Applying for and filing for military benefit programs can be a long and sometimes frustrating process and you need to be careful.
The Wounded Warriors Project has seen a lot of predatory schemes targeting the military community lately.
Mike Stoddard, Veteran Benefits Director with the Wounded Warrior Project, after 30 years of service with the Army is now working to help his brother and sisters in the military.
“One of the nightmares that we tend to have to deal with is when a veteran or family support member goes to a place that has been doing unethical practices and then they sign a contract or they get involved in something that we really can’t go back and fix,” Stoddard said.
The Wounded Warrior Project says during the pandemic, social media has been home to numerous scams, so there are two questions that need to be asked.
“First and foremost, you should ask the question, ‘‘Are you accredited through Veterans Affairs?’ That’s the first question. The second question is, ‘Are you going to charge me?’” Stoddard said. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Veterans need to make sure they are protecting themselves when seeking assistance with filing disability claims, rating changes, or pensions.
“The Texas Veterans Commission is great. They have offices all across the counties and all across the country. The most important thing is, you go to somebody’s accredited -- so your veteran service organizations, your state veterans, service officers or just again, go to WoundedWarriorProject.org,” Stoddard said.
Veterans can file VA claims on their own behalf for free through the VA, but also have access to numerous veterans service organizations.
If you choose to use an outside agency, it’s easy to check accreditation too.
“If you simply just get on whatever your search engine is and type Veterans Affairs accreditation, a link will pop up and you can type somebody’s name or organization into this website and they will tell you if they are accredited or not. And that updates in real time,” Stoddard said.
To check if your source is accredited, click here.