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Veterans advocate urges caution for donations
Glynn County Commissioner-elect Mike Browning has been a military veterans advocate for years.

He plays an active role in Memorial Day and Veterans Day events in Glynn County and encourages public participation.

But Browning is also concerned about some groups that come into Glynn County periodically to solicit donations they say will benefit veterans.

He isn't accusing the groups of misrepresenting themselves, but he wants proof that some of the money collected locally is being spent to help veterans from Glynn County or the region.

"We want the public to ask questions when people have their hand out for a donation to help our veterans and military families," he said. "When our neighbors find out someone ripped them off in the name of helping veterans and military families, that hurts your local groups' efforts to truly do some good work in the community."

Browning said there are already plenty of local groups with a proven record of support for military veterans.

"It's easy to look like a veteran," he said. "Most people don't question it."

Browning said he recently confronted a group of men dressed in camouflage fatigues and official looking identification cards who were soliciting donations at a local supermarket.

He asked them for proof they were spending some of the donations solicited locally.

Instead, Browning said the men were unable to provide proof of their organization spending any money to help local veterans.

"We've asked them to give us one example of a payback in the local community for veterans," Browning said. "They couldn't give one example. That's all we needed to know."

Browning said he went into the store to get the manager, and when he went outside again, the men soliciting donations were gone.

Browning also questioned if the men were veterans or paid employees.

"I wouldn't call it a scam," he said. "Technically, they're not breaking any laws. These guys are getting paid. This is what they do for a living."

The big concern Browning said he has is that people won't donate to legitimate military charities that are active in the community because of uncertainty about which ones do more than just solicit funds.

"If people knew every penny was leaving the community, they wouldn't give their money," he said. "People want to quit giving because they don't trust anyone anymore."

Browning said the local Veterans Council works with 14 local charities that are reputable and have a proven record of donating locally.

The local groups give 100 percent of the money raised to support veterans, Browning said.

"The groups on the Veterans Council are on the up and up," he said.

"If it's a local group, you'll probably be OK with them."

Recommendations

Here is the list of local charities recommended by the Veterans Council:

* Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2588

* Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4092

*American Legion Post 9

*American Legion Post 166

*American Legion Post 507

*American Legion Post 137

*Marine Corps League Det. 716

*Disabled American Veterans Chapter 36

*Fleet Reserve Association Branch 30

*Military Officers Association of America

*Navy League of the United States

*Sons of the American Revolution

*Rolling Thunder Georgia Chapter 2

*Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association



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