Torsella honoring veterans this Memorial Day by returning medals to rightful owners
Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella today announced that he is seeking the rightful owners of more than 500 military medals that are due to Pennsylvania’s veterans and their families. The medals have been in Treasury’s possession, some for many years, after being reported to the department as unclaimed property, in accordance with Pennsylvania law. As part of an ongoing initiative established by Treasurer Torsella, seven “lost” war medals, including three Purple Hearts, have recently been returned to their rightful owners: military veterans or their families.
“This Memorial Day, I am especially aware of the sacrifices made by our service members and their families. Every military decoration Treasury holds reflects that sacrifice, and I want to make sure we get these medals back in the hands of the Pennsylvanians who earned them or the family members who would treasure them. That’s why I’ve established this initiative, to make sure that as many of these symbols of service as possible are reunited with veterans and their families.”
Pennsylvania Treasurer, Joe Torsella
Hundreds of military medals, including Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars, and other types of service awards, remain unclaimed. Treasury policy is to never liquidate these items, in the hopes that they can one day be returned to their rightful owners.
Unclaimed property is any financial asset that has gone unclaimed for a period of time, usually three years. Under Pennsylvania law, businesses are required to report this to Treasury. Each year, Treasury receives millions of dollars in unclaimed property – items such as abandoned bank accounts, forgotten stocks, uncashed checks and contents of safe deposit boxes.
Unclaimed property can also include tangible property like jewelry, coins, collector cards and many times war medals. On average, Treasury receives approximately 70,000 pieces of tangible property each year. These items primarily come from safe deposit boxes that are reported to Treasury as abandoned.
The process to find the rightful owner of war medals reported to Treasury is usually lengthy and involves an exhaustive genealogy search to help find owners or heirs and prove entitlement. Treasury relies on several search techniques to include partnerships with veteran groups along with commercially available search databases. Oftentimes information on ownership of safe deposit boxes is incomplete, or a listed owner is not the recipient of the medal.
“We take great care to ensure that we preserve and protect every military medal that comes in to Treasury. And we are increasing our efforts to find the rightful owners”
Pennsylvania Treasurer, Joe Torsella
Since taking office, Treasurer Torsella has increased efforts to return unclaimed property that Treasury holds. At the end of 2017, Treasury announced that it had finished the year with a historic return totaling $254,122,398.05 in unclaimed property returned to Pennsylvania taxpayers. That amount represents the largest amount of property the department has returned in its history.
In June, Good Morning America partnered with Treasurer Torsella to present the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) with a check for $91,505.04.
Claimants may search Treasury’s website for unclaimed property, or Treasury’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property is also available toll-free at 1-800-222-2046, to help conduct a thorough search for unclaimed property.
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