By Debbie Gregory.
It’s a sad fact, but fraud involving the veteran community is on the rise.
In just a 6-month period last year, the VA’s Office of Inspector General reported that it recovered $2.9 million in restitution, fines and penalties relating to fraud.
But in a “this-one-takes-the-cake” case, standout fraudster Darryl Wright, a former Idaho National Guardsman, scammed more than $700,000 in benefits. His deception further included supposed injuries that resulted in Wright being awarded the Army’s Combat Action Badge and a Purple Heart.
“Darryl Lee Wright built an entire myth system on these two awards, relying on them to obtain every possible benefit that might be available to a wounded veteran,” assistant U.S. attorneys David Reese Jennings and Gregory Gruber wrote in a sentencing memo.
Wright represented that he was so severely disabled by PTSD symptoms that he spent two-to-five days a week in bed, in a fetal position; he had a caregiver, a house cleaner, and yard worker; he could not prepare his own meals; he could not take public transportation or be in crowds; he could walk only fifty meters; and his attention span was only five to ten seconds.”
So imagine how shocking it was to catch Wright doing yard work, playing in a recreational basketball league and coaching a high school team. He was also a member of an emergency response team that responded to fires and conducted searches and rescues in Snoqualmie, Washington. He had a “sport” membership at a local country club. Wright was also a board member for a hospital foundation and ran unsuccessfully for political office.
Stolen valor is just plain disgusting. It siphons vital benefits from veterans who truly need it.Wright hurt the heroes who fully deserve recognition, respect, and honor.
“I made several poor decisions that adversely affected my family,” Wright said in a statement sent to the Snoqualmie Valley Record.
Wright was sentenced to three years in prison and stripped of his medals.