2017-01-11 SAMMC Investigation

With much distress, we inform you that in December 2016 the AWCF was notified by the US Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) at San Antonio that some of the funds the AWCF has provided for support of the San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC) Wounded Warriors and their families may have been misappropriated. The CID is investigating the employee of the Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) who has been our point of contact for the last 11 years. The AWCF is just one of the charities this individual is accused of defrauding.

The CID criminal complaint lists 11 checks written by AWCF to this person for service members totaling $6,793.82 between 19 May and 17 June 2016.

Normally, the AWCF writes checks directly to the agency or person billing the Wounded Warrior. The bills are on official invoices and our normal procedure is to pay the bills directly to a company or to give the needed funds directly to the Wounded Warrior. Most often our payments are for bills not covered by appropriated funds because of a government regulation that may interfere with support for our Wounded Warriors. Such bills may include rent, transportation and other items.

Because we had developed a high level of trust in our point of contact at SAMMC, we deviated from our normal procedures with her in what we understood were emergency cases. When told that a Wounded Warrior needed immediate assistance, we sometimes provided checks directly to her, though that is not our normal procedure.

According to the CID Criminal Complaint, the investigation has revealed “….that this person wrongfully converted funds of non-profit organizations” and “there is probable cause to believe that this person knowingly, intentionally, and willfully used, without lawful authority, the means of identification of wounded service members-name and rank- to devise and engage in a scheme and artifice to defraud, and to obtain money by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, by means of wire communication in interstate commerce.”

The AWCF has provided all of its relevant records to the CID and continues to assist them. In addition, we have asked our audit firm to review our control procedures to ensure that we are using the tightest controls possible. We are also consulting with our legal team to see what actions we can take to recover our losses.

We value your contributions and have always done our best to ensure that all funds go to the proper beneficiaries. While we pride ourselves in helping our Service members quickly with a minimum of bureaucracy, we have learned a valuable and serious lesson. We will not drop our guard again.

Additional Note: Because of this case, the Commander of SAMMC has initiated new procedures to tighten the process by which his people can obtain help from charities. He recognized that there were flaws in the SAMMC system for helping his Wounded Warriors and has implemented procedures to more closely monitor the actions of his people. These will provide more oversight and additional protection for the AWCF and other charities.


1. The request for support must come from an official Federal or State government Veterans agency, military hospital or military unit.

2. We require proper documentation regarding the individual DD-214 for retired military or military unit verification for active duty. Where appropriate, we also require a statement of disability from the VA or medical status from a government agency or military unit.

3. We require invoices, bills or other statements showing the financial requirement of the beneficiary.

4. In general funds only go for the payee listed on the bills and invoices. In rare cases, some funds may go to the military member or veteran; this will be determined between the AWCF and the government advocate or military unit involved. Funds never are to be given through a third party, governmental or otherwise.

5. Once funds are disbursed, we follow up directly, when possible, or through the government agency or military unit involved.

Therapeutic Riding Program FAQ

Are there any programs that would potentially benefit our community since our services are free?
ANSWER – Yes. AWCF support may be by cost per child/lesson (a personal scholarship) or, in the case of those TROs that do not charge participants, a blanket award to the Therapeutic Riding Center (TRC); all payments/donations are made directly to the TRC. Completion of the TRP Application is required for all participants.
How might a military family with a disabled child be reviewed for funding?
ANSWER – Military rank or branch of service is not an issue. The AWCF makes its decision solely on each child’s situation, medical prognosis and “need.” The AWCF reserves the right to verify the military status of the sponsor(s) and dependent status of the child involved, the medical condition of the child and the “need.”
Does your program provide support for military dependent children that do not have a diagnosed disability?
ANSWER – No, the AWCF TRP is designed to assist military dependent children receive disability therapy not covered by the traditional military service “safety-nets,” e.g. CHAMPUS, TRICARE, etc.
What is the advance timeline that they would need to apply?
ANSWER – Whenever a child is approved by the TRC for participation or is already participating, we will accept a completed TRP application and begin the process for possible funding. The AWCF approval process takes approximately 2-3 weeks to be completed and the Therapeutic Riding Center/family notified of whatever support is approved.
Is there a specific format?
ANSWER – Yes, please review our TRP Application.
Do you share participant information with anyone other than the AWCF, the Therapeutic Riding Center and family involved?
ANSWER – No. As with all AWCF philanthropic activities, all information is dealt with on a confidential basis unless, on a voluntary basis, written permission of all parties is obtained.
We are an EFMH (Equine Facilitated Mental Health) program, and the majority of our riders are able bodied but wrestling with many issues. Would your program be able to sponsor scholarship for those students if they qualified?
ANSWER – Probably not, as our program is not currently designed to support “able-bodied” children. However, our medical staff will review a child’s condition diagnosis/ prognosis statement, completed by his/her doctor, and make a determination of eligibility.
Some of our students are from families so broken apart that there is no contact between parents. Do you have access to military service information if the fathers are unreachable to fill out forms about their service history?
ANSWER – No, we do not have such a capability but the parent caring for the child should be able to provide sufficient information for our review. Having a “regular” family, i.e., not divorced/separated/etc, does not qualify nor disqualify a needy child from participating in our program.