Veteran's Support Organization or "VSO"
"Making a Difference... One Donation at a Time"
Most other veteran organizations including Disabled American Veterans (DAV), The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign
Wars (VFW), and many others are very concerned about the Veteran's Support Organization and there so cause of
"helping veterans". This is why I believe I need to write this article about the "VSO" so the truth about the organization
can be exposed for what's really going on.
Last year, early in 2011, I was an "Employee" or "Work Program Participate" (WPP) as the VSO claims us to be and
orginally believed that this Organization was on the up and up. I even had my little brother (now an Active United States
Air Force National Guard Member of South Carolina) join the "Work Program" and help raise donations for veterans.
Being a member of the work program we were sent out to places locally first, when the VSO first opened up in South
Carolina, some of these places include Wal-Mart, Piggly Wiggly, Bi-Lo and other stores. When other Veteran
Organizations started questioning the VSO and complaining to stores about the organization being a "Fraud" the local
stores starting denying us to come there and collect. As a result of this we were sent further and further away to other
stores. When based out of Pawley's Island, SC and being sent sometimes 3 hours away (West Columbia or even further) I
started to notice something about the organization wasn't right. The management team who originally consisted of
Ronald Knapp (Vietnam Veteran) and Laura Van Houten (VSO founder's daughter) always told us to ask them any
questions or concerns we had about the organization to them.
One day after traveling to Columbia, SC for the VSO to collect donations, I was partnered with another WPP who had been
working with the organization for a few years out of the Florida chapter and had several things explained to me. He told
me that the VSO's New Life Haven Facility located in Florida was very dirty and not well maintained. The military style
rooms were filled with bedbugs, mold and nasty smells and he knew this because he had stayed in there even though he
admitted to never serving in the United States Armed Forces and that he was "like family" to the Van Houtens'. He also
stated that the first donations collected throughout the day by himself and others would be "STOLEN" from the can by
sliding a stick inside the can and sliding money out so himself, along with others, could go purchase street drugs (i.e.
cocaine and heroine) so they could "function properly" and collect donations. Along with being a Veteran you had to be
drug and alcohol free to stay at the New Life Haven Facility I was explained by the organization's policy? After returning
back to the office in Pawley's Island, I brought these concerns up to the managers who informed me they would explain
everything on the next working day. Laura Van Houten (Assistant Manager) went as far as trying to contact her father,
Richard Van Houten to explain everything to me, including where the money goes that we collect. This never happened as
the next working day was a week away and I guess enough time for them to "push it under the mat". The WPP also stated
that at the manager's quarterly to yearly all paid for meeting in Rhode Island that the managers were told to lie to all
Work Program Participates at all costs.
So months have gone by with me being a WPP and seeing how much money alone we were bringing into our Pawley's
Island Office, I began to look around and do the numbers myself. Being on the WPP I admittly and now shamefully had
"earned" almost $9,000 in my pocket, tax free, from money collected. All WPPs' collect 30% of the total amount of money
collected as a team at each store (usually 2 persons together) and 35% if you are the driver for the day or train a new
WPP. Also if you worked the roads (standing on the side of busy roads with a bucket running up and down in between
cars collecting money) there would be days we would collect $1,500+ and actually get 30% - 35% of this money. Almost
everyday I worked I would leave work with at least $185 cash and I even have had days I walked out of work with $305
After the State of South Carolina investigated the Veteran's Support Organization, they told us that we would start being
paid hourly because the State of South Carolina doesn't allow the type of work we were doing and that was the only
infraction that was brough upon them (from what the management team told us). Before having all WPP on a W-4 Form
they told us they would "keep track" of the money they were taking out for "Federal & State Taxes" for our W-2. I kept
track of this money too and they had kept over $780 that was to go to taxes. After finally getting all WPPs' on the W-4
Form, we were paid hourly at $7.25 with a bonus pay chart. With this new payment plain Richard Van Houten came up
with (Ronald Knapp told me) it would actually have the WPPs' make more money than they were already making. If a
WPP was to collect between this amount and this amount they would get Bonus amount of money on top of their 35 - 40
hourly work week pay at $7.25/hr. So instead of making 30% - 35% sometimes you would be earning almost 40% - 45%.
It was at this point and time I decieded, along with my brother, enough is enough and it's time to leave. I didn't honorably
serve and fight for my country to deceive the public and exploit them, especially in today's tough economical economy.
So this new year started and as I awaited for my W-2 and 1099 Form to arrive from the VSO as that was my only place of
employment this year and so I could file my taxes and also aquire my EIC for my daughter as I'm currently not able to
work due to military service connected disability and awaiting VA Compansation. I received my W-2 in the mail, which
what totally incorrect (View Below) and NO 1099 FORM. I contacted the VSO's Pawley Island manager who is still
Ronald Knapp (as Laura Van Houten went to Florida to work in Human Resources) with this concern and he told me to
expect my 1099 in the mail within the next day or two and if I didn't receive it to call him back and he will find out what's
going on for me. A week later and still NO 1099 FORM and I contacted Ronald Knapp only to get his voicemail everytime.
I left several messages requesting a call back from him and have attempted to contact the VSO in Florida and Rhode Island
(I don't which is the Headquarters) and still have no gotten a response. I went to the VSO Office located in Pawley's Island
too and spoke with the current booker (Bill) and let him know the situation and to have Ron contact me. I would like to
know where my 1099 Form is and "Tax" money they collected from me because as you see with the attached W-2 Form,
No Federal Taxes were paid and $2.38 was paid to State Taxes. Where's the other $777 that they collected for "Taxes"?
The following information is an example and all averages but the general conception is realitivly close to what's
happening to the money in a month's timeframe with the Pawley's Island, SC Veteran's Support Organization:
Pawley's Island VSO Collects: $20,000 - $35,000 (Average Month-MUCH Higher in
Summer and Holiday Seasons)
Work Program Participates Pay: $4,350 (With 15 WPPs') without including Bonus Pay
Manager's Salary(s): $5,000 - $8,000 (Average)
Booker's Salary: $1,280 ($8.00 per hour for 40 hours per week)
Office Rent: $1,000 (Approx.)
2 Brand New Vehicles: $1,000 ($500 per van, not including insurance cost)
Gas for Vehicles: $1,200 - $2,000 (varies by days or work and distance)
Uniform Cost: UNKNOWN
Video/Security Monitoring: UNKNOWN
MISC Expenses (office supplies, etc.) UNKNOWN
APPROX. KNOWN TOTAL SPENT BEFORE ASSISTING OUTSIDE COMPANY: $15,000.00 per MONTH
I know for a fact and seen that the Pawley's Island VSO has collected over $15,000 in a single weekend before so the
numbers above are being VERY generous but do give the concept of what's going on. They also do not tell us where the
remaining money(s) go that aren't spent. In the entire time I spent on the work program I have seen them donate the
COLUMBIA VETERAN'S AFFAIRS CENTER $1,000
LOCAL VETERAN'S FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE LESS THAN $2,500
We had a Work Program Participate, an Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Purple Heart Veteran who was actually out
collecting have his very own vehicle repossed from the Veteran's Support Organization parking lot and they did nothing
to help him. Here you have a Veteran working for you, is struggling financially and has his only means of transportation
repossessed from their parking lot, meanwhile the funds to help him pay the $700 he owed to prevent the repo was in a
safe 2 feet away from the managers. Due to this WPP losing his vehicle he was unable to return back to the office located
in Pawley's Island, SC from Conway, SC to work and the VSO managers said, "He quit because he isn't showing up for
work," doesn't seem right or fair to me.
Before I was accepted to the Work Program the company made me sign numerous documents in which I have made an
attempt to obtain to no prevail along with submitting my DD-214. Does this mean my papers are lost, destroyed (if so,
show proof) or simply out in public for people to steal my identity or cause harm to my name?
As you can see from the RED squares (not including their information) they not only stole money from me but aren't
claiming the appropriate amounts on their taxes as well. I earned nearly $9,000 while on the Work Program for the
Veteran's Support Organization. Also where's the money they claimed they were taking out for my Federal and State
Taxes, because out of the hundreds they kept only $2.38 went to my State Taxes and None to Federal Taxes. Sorry, don't
forget the whole $25.35 to Social Security and $8.75 to Medicare. Not to mention that you can't require someone to show
up to work a hour early and not pay them for their time there.
Personally I feel that the Veteran's Support Organization is a get rich scheme for it's Management and Higher ups through
deceiving the American People by using Veterans as a pawn for their profit. I also truly feel that this 501(c) Non-Profit
Organization should be revoked and not allowed to operate until the IRS and other government agencies step in and
Also on a side note after doing all the investigating I have done I came across several articles, videos and such stating that
Richard Van Houten had served in the United States Army from 1983 until 1991 but never produced a DD-214 nor a
Department of Veteran Affairs Identification Card. It's also been stated he worked for an Ice Cream place after his ETS
from the service but when I met him in person and he explained how he started the Organization out of his garage way
back when. He told us he was delivering subs and pizzas to Active Duty Military Members on post when he came up with
the idea to support veterans. I really don't know what the truth is anymore about Richard Van Houten or the Veteran's
Support Organization for that matter but I do know that they aren't helping like they say they are and making a big deal
about how your salary is "capped", doesn't mean anything when your salary cap is $250,000 a year, plus your wife's
salary, and your daughter's salary so how much do you really bring in and how much is really spent on "Helping Veterans"
when you're collecting that kind of money?
Michael M. Spivey
US Army, Military Police Corps. (former)