The late Veteran Joe Pittman was a resident of the Biloxi VA Community Living Center. He reported his wallet missing in 2003. It was never found.

Until now.

Pittman’s wallet was discovered by workers in December inside a wall during a renovation construction project. A little detective work by resident engineer Chris LeVelle showed that the wallet belonged to Pittman.

Written on the back of a photo was the name Anastasia Ladner, so LeVelle searched for and found her. He discovered a local telephone number and spoke with Vicki Ladner, Anastasia Ladner’s mother and Pittman’s daughter.

Loss reported in 2003

Privacy Officer Melanie Lane initiated an investigation and discovered that a VA Police Services report had been filed in February 2003. It described a solid black wallet with a zipper containing social security and insurance cards and photos of family members. Although numerous efforts to find the wallet were conducted, the wallet remained missing.

Until 2020.

The wallet was returned to Vicki Ladner by Vernon Stewart, Chief of Community and Public Affairs as pictured above.

At the core of what we do

Vicki Ladner examines the contents of her father’s wallet.

“Being able to return these personal possessions to a family is quite a personal moment,” Stewart said. “Some of the photos in this wallet are irreplaceable and being able to provide this Veteran’s family with these items is at the core of what we do, taking care of Veterans and their families.”

Vicki Ladner examines the contents of her father’s wallet

Vicki Ladner disclosed that Pittman tended to hide his personal belongings, possibly accounting for the wallet being placed inside a wall. Upon receipt of the wallet, she was surprised to discover a social security card belonging to her grandmother, numerous photos of relatives, and an identification card indicating her father had at one time worked for the Jackson County Sherriff’s Office in Mississippi.

“This wallet remained hidden in a wall for over seventeen years and contained some of Pittman’s cherished possessions,” Melanie Lane said. “Being able to provide these items to this Veteran’s family, especially during this holiday season, is a wonderful feeling. I’m honored to have been part of this Veteran’s ongoing legacy.”

The Biloxi VA Medical Center and the Mobile, Pensacola, Eglin and Panama City VA Clinics are all part of the Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System, which is headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi, and provides a variety of medical outpatient services to more than 70,000 Veterans.


Bruce Cummins is a public affairs specialist at the VA Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System.

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