Busted: Nonprofit catches 40 Purple Heart fakers in 1 day

Warfighter SCUBA is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides wounded Veterans an all expense paid trip to the island of Roatan, Honduras as part of a therapy program for combat injuries. While there, the Veteran gets trained and certified in SCUBA diving.

Warfighter SCUBA’s mission statement reads: “… we are giving our war heroes an alternative outlet for their burdens of war.” Their website clearly states this is specifically for combat wounded Veterans.  Despite this, they caught 40 new applicants lying about being wounded in combat in one day! They either provided falsified documents or, when their records were checked against the official registry, did not exist.

Screen capture from Warfighter SCUBA’s website.

This came after the Department of Veterans Affairs posted an online article highlighting the legitimacy of the organization and their need for donors.

“We received over 2,000 new applications, but very few donations,” Founder Nick Powers stated. Powers, who began Warfighter SCUBA in 2018, served in Iraq as a US Marine.

The CEO of Warfighter went on to tell American Grit that screening the new applicants was extremely time consuming, and to have so many people blatantly lie was “extremely disappointing.” As a small, relatively new, nonprofit their budget is limited.

When we asked what could be done to help, Powers said “The demand is greater than the ability to provide, we need sponsors because the wait list is very long, and we want to be able to help everyone as soon as possible.”  Nick Powers additionally said he’d be happy to dive with any Veteran who makes their way to Roatan, but the nonprofit funds were reserved for those who were injured in action against the enemy.

He went on to add that Veterans not specifically wounded have been able to crowd fund their trip in the past. However, that was met with criticism from some of the Veterans who did not meet the requirements.  One anonymous applicant complained that they “deserved a free trip because they served 20 years in the National Guard,” despite being aware of the requirements of the organization, and admitting they never deployed.

In total, Warfighter has had 47 Veterans and active duty come through the program in less than two years. Screening fakers and stolen valor takes precious time and resources away from those this program was intended to help. To learn more about Warfighter SCUBA, click here.

Know what we're sayin fam?

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7 thoughts on “Busted: Nonprofit catches 40 Purple Heart fakers in 1 day”

  1. Avatar

    Awesome jobs guy, I am a 50 year old disabled veteran 40%, and also have a spinal cord injury (non war related), I am also padi certified (open water) and would have no issues with your requirements that I pay for my on trip down in order to dive with you guys. No one should take benefits from our brothers who doesn’t meet your requirements.


  2. Avatar

    I don’t think the focus of this program is narrow enough to be sustainable without some deep-pockets sponsor — I mean even if there were no fraudulent applicants, the waiting list would still be enormous and would grow rapidly if people were aware of the program.

    And I’m not sure that the stated requirement serves a useful purpose. The vast majority of ‘combat wounded’ vets are not any different from other vets. Simply having been wounded doesn’t make us special. I’ve often joked that my Purple Heart is the only award the Army gives for NOT doing your job well.

    There are an enormous number of people who qualify — I qualify — but at 71 years old I’m no longer interested in making a long trip to get SCUBA certified, a few decades ago I would have jumped at such an opportunity, but it would have been just a nice free vacation because I have never felt I had any “burdens of war” that needed any outlet.

    This sounds like a wonderful program, but unless they find some big money donors I think they will need to refine their selection process and rethink the qualification criteria.

  3. Avatar
    Thomas McDonough

    I support what your doing for those who are injured and would love more info on how I can help make this possible.

  4. Avatar
    Joseph Schicker

    Thanks for your support of Combat Wounded Veterns. I really hope something good comes your way and I would like to donate.

  5. Avatar

    This excellent. We all know of organizations that have been scamming veterans for quite sometime. Support my injured brothers and sisters in arms. I want to see harsher punishment for stolen valor and giving credit where credit is due for those that have sacrificed so much. I’m approaching my first deployment. I hope someone continues to give a damn about us.

  6. Avatar

    It’s sad that stolen Valor exists, i’m sorry for that. But those vets that believe they are entitled to something just because they served, sickens me more. If they want to be combat vets or purple heart recipients then i’m afraid they have no idea what they wish for. Stolen Valor is a Veteran problem more than a civilian problem. Vets are the worst about it.


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