Veteran charity accused of exploiting wife of veteran who killed himself

Stephanie Lembo Facebook
Army veteran and Active Heroes founder Troy Yocum is accused of scamming several Gold Star families out of their money.

America’s favorite 21st Century ex-drill sergeant has declared war on what he considers a corrupt veteran’s charity that scams people out of money.

John Burk has begun to shed new light on the allegations of controversy, deception and outright scamming practices of Active Heroes, a non-profit organization that reportedly scammed several Gold Star families out of their money, as well as consistently putting off reimbursement for Burk’s charity work on their behalf.

In a post on Burk’s website, he tells the story of Theresa Dawn Bowles, a mother who lost her Marine combat veteran son in 2012 and was urged to call Active Heroes’ head, Troy Yocum.

Former Army Drill Sergeant John Burk ,who is now one of the stars on the TV show American Grit.

“We were referred to them August of 2013 by US Bank, to possibly get help from them in paying the rest of my son’s funeral, and to assist us in filing our 501c3 for Heroes To Rest Inc, our charity,” she wrote.

Later, she claimed, Yocum told her it would cost $50,000 to start a 501c3, when in reality it would only cost around $800. In addition to Yocum’s first “lie,” Bowles claims he never followed through on helping them learn how to raise money.

After the Bowles family had had enough, She claims that Yocum began bullying them, ultimately running off with several thousand dollars.

“We are loving and generous,” she wrote. “And that TERRIBLE MAN had me so upset that he could get away with doing this to a GOLD STAR MOTHER!”

Another bereaved loved one, Stephanie Lembo, began working with Active Heroes in 2015 after her Navy SWCC husband took his own life in 2010.

After helping Active Heroes raise $65,000, Lembo suddenly became upset with the nonprofit’s practices and mishandling of funds.

“I told them I had [gotten] a lawyer,” she said in a Facebook video. “We had sent them a cease and desist order to stop using my name and my husband’s legacy to profit.”

“They do not use [the money] for the right thing,” she added. “I told them I do not want to work with them anymore.”

Despite the cease and desist, the nonprofit reportedly watermarked a video of Lembo and continued to use it to make money.

The situation drove her to tears.

“I hate that,” she said. “Just to make money for themselves. They are greedy and they’re not even doing what they promised.”

In addition to the families of several fallen heroes, the organization reportedly sparked the ire of John Burk, who claimed Yocum is not only slow to reimburse people who work under him, but abuses the funds his nonprofit raises and bullies anyone who calls him out on his shady practices.

Burk complained that he was swindled out of money he paid out of pocket to do his part of the charity work. After complaining about it, people who Yocum allegedly threatened began coming to him, telling them about their experiences.

“Troy,” Burk said in an August Facebook video, pointing at the camera. “You are the CEO of Active Heroes. I don’t want the money now. I am going to destroy you, because now I am getting messages of people that you have called and threatened. I’m getting messages from previous employees that were given severance packages to shut up about the numbers that are going on in your organization.”

When pressed for comment by Popular Military, Burk confirmed that he still meant what he said and that he has the data to back up his claims.

“It’s all a scam,” he said. “Things are being bought with the nonprofit money for personal use. They’re slow to reimburse people who work with them and Troy threatens or bribes people who call him out.”

“Yocum is a veteran of OIF, but according to his mates, he was in Kuwait. He was injured and evacuated, but they claim that he slipped in the shower. They also tell me that the only casualties they suffered during their time there, were from traffic accidents,” according to a blog that is well known for exposing those who embellish their service record.

For the veteran celebrity, the war has against what he considers a rogue organization only just begun.

According to Active Heroes 2016 financial statements, they received over $1.7 million in donations last year, tax free.

Editor’s note: Popular Military first reported -from information provided by John Burk- that Theresa Dawn Bowles is a Gold Star mother because her Marine son died in combat. This was incorrect; her son served two tours in Afghanistan but was found dead near his car in a culvert in 2012. 

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