Treasurer Torsella Searching For Families of World War II Veterans

Torsella honoring veterans on anniversary of D-Day by returning WWII service awards to rightful owners

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella today announced that he is seeking the rightful owners of World War II military medals that belong to Pennsylvania’s veterans and their families. The service awards 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, thirteen missing war decorations—including a Purple Heart—have recently been returned to their rightful owners.

“On the anniversary of one of the most significant military operations in modern history, I am reminded of and humbled by the courage of our service members. The military decorations from this era held in Treasury’s possession have untold historical and sentimental value. That’s why I’m continuing this initiative, to make sure these awards are returned to the veterans who earned them or the families who would treasure them.”

Pennsylvania Treasurer, Joe Torsella

Treasury is searching for the owners of four World War II Victory ribbons, two World War II Victory medals, a World War II Selective Service System Award medal, and a piece of military headgear adorned with various service ribbons. Treasury is also holding a Purple Heart with an attached newspaper clipping praising the 30th Division during action in World War II. Treasury policy is to never liquidate these items, in the hopes that they can one day be returned to their rightful owners.

The process to find the heirs of war medals reported to Treasury is usually lengthy and involves an exhaustive genealogy search to help find owners and prove entitlement. Treasury relies on several search techniques, including partnerships with veteran groups along with using commercially available search databases. Often times, information on ownership of safe deposit boxes is incomplete, or a listed owner is not the recipient of the medal.

“Although more than seventy years have passed since these medals were earned, the honor they represent hasn’t faded. That is why we are stepping up our efforts to reunite these medals with their rightful owners.”

Pennsylvania Treasurer, Joe Torsella

Unclaimed property is any financial asset that has gone unclaimed for a period of time, usually three years. Under Pennsylvania law, businesses and government agencies 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.

Treasury currently holds over 500 military-related items from various conflicts. 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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