Saturday, January 30, 2016

Florida Veterans Charities Feeling Sting After Wounded Warrior Project Report

Florida Veterans Charities Paying the Price of Service
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
January 30, 2016

If you donated because of a commercial pulling at your heart then BOHICA if you never noticed one simple fact. Wounded Warrior Project never says what they are doing with your money. They make no claims about why they even need your money other than to "honor and empower them to aid and assist each other."

They omit the fact that they only "serve" post 9-11 veterans but it is in their website. They have not hidden the fact they are getting huge sums of money donated to them as well as donating huge sums of money to other groups with the money you gave them to other groups.

See, the thing is, as much as all the CBS reporting may have you upset, you really need to blame yourself for not doing your own research just as all the major donators should have done.

The American Sniper Movie about Chris Kyle promised $1 million to Wounded Warrior Project by Warner Brothers instead of the Chris Kyle Foundation in April of 2015.

If you think the reports from CBS on Wounded Warrior Project are new, think again.

CBS WTVR News did another report last year. It showed the troubling accounting they were doing on fundraising and expenses included in on "services" they reported.
CEO responds after watchdogs give Wounded Warrior charity low marks APRIL 29, 2015, BY WEB STAFF
Nardizzi said the best way for a potential donor to gauge a charity is to research the charity directly, without relying on charity-watchdog web sites. But our investigation shows how a charity and a charity-checking organization can review the same data and come up with different results.

On the Wounded Warrior Project’s website, the charity says it spends 80 percent of its donations on its main services. But tax records show it also includes some fundraising expenses in that mix. Charity Navigator subtracts the fundraising and — in its most recent report — said the Wounded Warrior Project spends less than 60 percent on its services. The rest, according to Charity Navigator, went to fundraising and administration.
June 2015 UCLA received a grant from Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project has approved a $15.7 million grant over three years for UCLA Health to expand its Operation Mend program.
But there are others and they are proud to say how many grants they have given out with the funds you thought were going to the veterans they show in those famous commercials with the blankets covered with their famous logo.

November 2015
Southeastern Grocers Customers raise $526,825.66 for Wounded Warrior Project Grocers’ Wall of Honor campaign aids injured veterans and their families
May have sounded good but what they didn't tell you is that not all veteran mattered enough for the Southern Grocers to donate to a charity that excludes older veterans waiting even longer for help with the same wounds.

WWP not run by a veteran and according to reports, only about a third of their employees are veterans.
Steve Nardizzi bio on WWP shows no military service.
A Richardson Scholar, Steve graduated from Brooklyn Law School and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1997 and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in 1999. He attended New York University, where he was a Trustee Scholar, and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1993.
Maybe that's why he has no problem admitting that this charity is treated more like a business than a not for profit charity doing the work for the sake of veterans.

The majority of charities out there are not successful fundraisers.  However they are doing the work they promised to do, putting veterans needs ahead of getting your money.  All these reports have stung these groups, plus many more, more interested in veterans than raising awareness about themselves.
Local veterans advocates fear impact from Wounded Warrior reports
Tampa Tribune
By Howard Altman
Tribune Staff
January 29, 2016

TAMPA — As both a wounded veteran and a fund-raiser helping people like him, Pete Quintanilla says reports about lavish spending by the cause’s biggest charity — the Jacksonville-based Wounded Warrior Project — is making a tough job even tougher.
The Combat Wounded and Injured Veteran Challenge Team successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa, in 2013. The group is worried recent news about the Wounded Warrior Project will make their job more difficult. Combat Wounded and Injured Veteran Challenge Team

“There’s veteran fatigue,” said Quintanilla, director of operations for Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge, a St. Petersburg-based non-profit helping veterans through expeditions and research.

“People are tired of giving money for veterans because they don’t know what the money is being used for and they are not sure their dollar is going to help the veteran.”

This week, CBS and the New York Times ran reports raising questions about how the Wounded Warrior Project spends the money it takes in, largely from small donors.

CBS said financial reports show the Wounded Warrior Project spent more than $26 million in 2014 on conferences, meetings and events for staff members — “almost the same amount they spent on combat stress recovery, its largest program for veterans.”

Supporters locally still stand by the Wounded Warrior Project, including a severely wounded Iraq war veteran the charity has helped and the Winn-Dixie supermarket chain, which questions the fairness of the news reports.
Quintanilla and others who run local charities helping veterans say the questions about the Wounded Warrior Project spending leave them as collateral damage. They also have raised their own questions publicly before the news reports appeared.

“It’s going to be harder to raise money now,” said Quintanilla, a medically retired Army Ranger staff sergeant who was shot in the left ankle in Panama during a live-fire training exercise in 1997. His leg was amputated in 2004.

Quintanilla said his organization, which has about $80,000 in the bank, spends 86 percent of the money it raises directly on programs for veterans. That compares to 60 percent spent by Wounded Warrior Project, according to independent charity monitoring groups.
That’s also a concern for Bob Silah, a retired Navy captain who runs Operation Helping Hand, a Tampa-based charity providing assistance to wounded, ill and injured troops at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa.

Every month since 2004, the organization has hosted a dinner at the hospital honoring these troops and their families. As he collects donations at these gatherings from corporations and groups, Silah is quick to tell them 96.5 percent of the money raised by Operation Helping Hand goes to the troops and their families.

Unlike the Wounded Warrior Project, he adds, he and everyone associated with Operation Helping Hand do their work for free.
read more here
As for the roots of WWP this is how it started.
The Wounded Warrior Project’s roots are more humble. Its founder, John Melia, was a Marine veteran who had been injured in a helicopter crash off the coast of Somalia in 1992. When wounded troops began returning from Iraq in 2003, Mr. Melia remembered how he had arrived in a stateside hospital with only his thin hospital gown, and began visiting military hospitals to distribute backpacks stuffed with socks, CD players, toothpaste and other items.

As the backpack project grew, Mr. Melia hired a few employees, including Mr. Nardizzi, a lawyer who had never served in the military but was an executive for a small nonprofit, the United Spinal Association, which served disabled veterans.
WWP got the attention to help them raise all that money while other groups didn't even get attention for good works they were doing. Now WWP doesn't like the attention it is getting while other groups are paying for what they did. Doesn't seem fair at all.