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POW Network under Investigation by

VA Inspector General

By Staff Writer: Rick Townsend

June 29, 2006

According to recently released documents Chuck and Mary Schantag of the POW Network, ( are under investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans Rights advocate [Name Omitted] has received confirmation from the VA Inspector General’s office that a case number had been assigned to the investigation and that their findings would be forthcoming.

The POW Network WWW.POWNetwork.ORG is a registered 501-3 corporation operated by Chuck and Mary Schantag of Skidmore MO, and has been in existence for over 16 years. The organization claims to be involved in the accounting of prisoners of war and missing in action from the Vietnam War. Their web banner states: Since 11/11/89, dedicated to information distribution on our Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Servicemen”. However, in recent years they appear to have branched-out into other areas and expanded their mission. The Schantags now claim to be ‘investigators’ for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Last month the Schantags claimed they met with the VA Inspector General to turn over information on five veterans they suspected were receiving veteran’s benefits that they were not entitled to. In addition, the Schantags have claimed to have ‘friends’ within the VA IG’s office they fear compromising.  

The current VA investigation of the POW Network is the direct result of a formal complaint filed with the VA IG on May 2, 2006 by Vietnam combat veterans [Name Omitted] and Gene Simes. Both men feared their personal information and confidential medical records were being accessed by unauthorized persons, specifically Chuck and Mary Schantag of the POW Network. In a series of emails from the Shantags they stated they had ‘friends’ in the VA that would sift through military and VA records and provide them with personal information on anyone they requested, and that they did not want to compromise these ‘friend’s’ identity.      

The POW Network web site maintains an active list on hundreds of veterans ‘they’ say are frauds. They call this area on their site, “Phonies & Wannabees”, and its intent is to publicly humiliate and dishonor individuals they have declared guilty of some infraction. Photographs and personal information on these individuals appears on their site as well. It is important to realize the vast majority of these veterans have not had the benefit of the legal process to prove their innocence in a court of law. In fact, most of the veterans listed have committed no crime at all. In some cases, a mere internet chat room war story has launched a full investigation by the POW Network of a veteran’s service records because a certain individual was questionable, they would ask the Schantags to do their investigation.

Several years ago [Name Omitted] posted a copy of his DD214 & DD215 on his web site for public viewing. As a veteran’s advocate [Name Omitted] felt compelled to verify his service publicly. Several months ago, Air Force veteran, Ms. Diane Weller, (aka: ‘Gunny Di’) took issue with two entries obviously added to [Name Omitted]’s DD214 and that the posted copy was not certified. According to [Name Omitted], he did in fact add two corrections to his DD214, but the correct information he added was not misleading or embellished. The real injustice here appears to be [Name Omitted]’s original DD214. His discharge paper doesn’t come close to reflecting his service in Vietnam. Even with three separate DD215s, all of the corrections have yet to be made.

In early May of this year, Diane Weller contacted Chuck and Mary Schantags of the POW Network and asked them to investigate [Name Omitted]’s military records and report back to her on what they discovered. Weller was publicly accusing [Name Omitted] of lying, embellishing, and altering his military service record. Evidently, the Schantags had provided this investigative service for Ms. Weller in the past. Three weeks ago, the Schantag’s released 18 pages of [Name Omitted]’s military documents which do appear to have come from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO. However, they are not certified either. But, the documents do confirm the two corrections [Name Omitted] added to his DD214 were 100% accurate. The Schantags also sent [Name Omitted]’s 18 pages of service records to a number of individuals that had requested to see them.  

Gene Simes just received 6 pages of his military records from Diane Weller which were provided to her by the Schantags. “My personal information was blacked-out on the documents, but I don’t know if this information was blacked-out before, or after the Schantags received it,” Simes stated. “The point is, these people have received my military records which I did not authorize for release,” Simes said. 

[Name Omitted] says he has been contacted by several other veterans complaining of similar shake-downs by the POW Network. According to one veteran, his Social Security number was stolen by factions associated with the POW Network and eventually led to identity theft and thousands of dollars of unauthorized charges in his name. In another case, a veteran had a pending law suit against the Schantags for defamation and invasion of privacy, but the case was dismissed in January of this year because the veteran died before justice was served.   

Gene Simes has reservations about the current VA IG investigation into the operations of the POW Network. In a FBN telephone interview Simes compared the VA investigation to ‘the fox guarding the hen house’. “I don’t put a great deal of confidence in the VA investigating itself. If the Schantags really do have ‘friends’ in the VA IG office, I expect very little to happen. The only way the VA IG could conduct a proper investigation of this matter is to review every single person listed on the POW Network’s web site to see how the Schantags got their information. I don’t see the VA IG doing that,” Simes stated.

[Name Omitted] is more optimistic about the VA IG investigation. “Protection of veteran’s personal information is a very hot and sensitive topic right now. I expect this investigation to change the way these organizations get their information in the future. It appears to me that these people are using the sacred POW/MIA issue as a front for more sinister reasons,” [Name Omitted] said. “In view of recent catastrophic failures with the security of veteran’s personal information, the last thing the veterans of this country need is some mom & pop ‘Columbo team’ with ‘friends’ in the government they don’t want compromised,” [Name Omitted] concluded.

[Name Omitted] says he has contacted the Schantags by email several times requesting that they release a public statement clarifying their findings. Diane ‘Gunny Di’ Weller still contends the Schantags have proven [Name Omitted] to be a liar and fraud. However, to date, the Schantags have refused to publicly comment on this matter.

The FBN will continue to follow this developing story.

Please submit all comments and questions to: Rick Townsend -



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