On May 30, Memorial Day, we honor those veterans whom made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives for our great county. Memorial Day honors their service and sacrifice. Nearly 850 veterans are buried in Lakeview Cemetery.

As Memorial Day approaches, it’s a good time to remind the good and patriotic citizens of New Canaan to be aware of phony organizations who “solicit” on behalf of Veterans. Recently, Peter Langenus, the commander of New Canaan’s Veterans of Foreign War Post 653, received a telephone call from a shopper who had been approached for a money donation in front of the Food Emporium.

The shopper thought that the solicitor’s military uniform seemed to be a mismatch of different uniforms and of different branches of the service. She asked Mr. Langenus to confirm the status of the organization soliciting funds. Mr. Langenus went to the Food Emporium and confirmed the shopper’s suspicions. The solicitor was wearing a hodgepodge of outdated uniforms and was relying on the goodness of New Canaan residents to donate monies to him. With the assistance of the Food Emporium Manager, the solicitor was invited to leave the Food Emporium at once. The organization on behalf of whom the solicitor was working is an organization over 100 miles distant from New Canaan. Many of these solicitors are not veterans, and are not volunteers but are a paid a percentage of what they collect from the New Canaan Community.

A few years ago an organization known as the Veterans Support Organization (VSO) was soliciting contributions from customers outside the Walgreen’s store. VSO is not related to the Veterans Administration, to the United Services Organization or to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. VSO was profiled in a “Hall of Shame” report by Fox Five New York TV reporter Arnold Diaz. In that profile Diaz exposed VSO for hiring “solicitors” to pose in pseudo-military uniforms who are then paid a commission and are allowed to keep 30 percent of what they raise from unsuspecting donors. At best, 15 percent of what VSO raises may go to legitimate veterans’ causes; 85 percent of the funds raised go for overhead such as officers’ salaries and commissions for the paid solicitors. The state of Tennessee has fined VSO for its fundraising practices.

As Memorial Day approaches we expect more bogus organizations and individuals to approach unsuspecting town residents who assume that they are donating to a legitimate charity. The New Canaan Post 653 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars solicits for funds just twice a year, before Memorial Day and before Christmas. These funds all stay in New Canaan and are used only for legitimate purposes such as Christmas Wreaths placed on Veterans’ gravesites each December. This coming weekend, these New Canaan VFW Members will be soliciting at locations throughout New Canaan and will be wearing hats that identify them as members of the New Canaan VFW. You can trust these men.

If you are unsure of whether an organization is a legitimate charity, please contact our department at 203-594-3500 or contact me directly at 203-594-3512, before you make a donation and we will help you make an informed decision.

This Memorial Day let’s honor those whom made the ultimate sacrifice by contributing to legitimate charities that help our veterans — especially the hundreds of veterans that live in New Canaan. Let’s celebrate the lives and legacies of those veterans we have lost, lost but never forgotten and always revered.

Leon M. Krolikowski,

chief of police