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Homes for Our Troops withdraws home offer
ST. LOUIS (1/15/09)--Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) has withdrawn support for building a home for Army Specialist Scott West in Branson, Mo., because West had pleaded guilty to a felony involving a controlled substance. John Gonsalves, HFOT president and founder, informed the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) about the issue Monday, said MCUA (The Missouri difference Jan. 14). “Upon reviewing their documented response, the Missouri Credit Union Association respects and supports Homes for Our Troops’ actions,” said Rosie Holub, MCUA president/CEO. HFOT provided copies of the initial application to receive support and the partnership agreement West signed. At the time of the initial application in February 2007, West did not have charges filed against him. However, when he signed the partnership agreement in July 2008, he did not disclose that charges were pending at that time. The partnership agreement indicates that HFOT can withdraw support for cause and one cause specifically stated is a felony criminal act by a veteran, said MCUA. “We take very seriously our obligations to our donors and volunteers,” said HFOT in a statement. “That is why our agreements with servicemen and women include a provision that allows us to end a project if it is clear the veteran has committed a felony criminal act.” HFOT said it will move formally to end the West project and the next step will be to make a recommendation to its board. West was arrested Oct. 1 during a traffic stop. He pleaded guilty Dec. 11 to a Class B felony for possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. The felony carries a minimum of five years and a maximum of 15 years in prison (News-Leader and St. Louis Post Dispatch Jan. 13). “As you can imagine, this decision and notification was not easy for HFOT,” said Holub, who added it has built 35 homes and plans to complete more than 30 this year. “MCUA continues its support for this organization that builds specially adapted homes for servicemen and women who have been so severely injured fighting for our country,” she added. “We want to assure member credit unions that all funds collected and pledged by Missouri credit unions will go to fund a future home for a severely injured veteran in Missouri and that Missouri credit unions remain firmly committed to Homes for Our Troops,” Holub said.
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