Monday, February 8, 2016

Veterans Charities At War Leave Veterans Out

Veterans Charities At War Leave Veterans Out
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 8, 2016

We've all read the reports and seen the news broadcasts about Wounded Warrior Project but there is a lot left out of the discussion as more and more charities come out to publicize the fact they are not part of that group. Seems it was a different story when they used the name to gain publicity for themselves when Wounded Warrior Project was spending huge sums of money for advertising.

There is Augusta Wounded Warrior Project saying they are not them.

Montana Wounded Warriors wants folks to know they are not them.
Montana Wounded Warriors was started six years ago by Rotarian Neil Baumann and Army Maj. Jesse Mann. Both men are from Columbia Falls. Mann served as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot in Iraq. They started Montana Wounded Warriors six years ago.
Seems it was a different story when the publicity was good and working for them. It happened in 2011,
Appeals Court Upholds Judgment For Wounded Warrior Project
Non Profit Times
By Mark Hrywna
January 12, 2011

In a 19-page decision filed today (Jan. 12), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in Nebraska knocked down six alleged key errors in the original case raised in the appeal by Wounded Warrior Family Support (WWFS). A jury in September 2009 awarded $1.7 million to Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) of Jacksonville, Fla., and entered a permanent injunction against WWFS. The $1.7 million included $1.295 million for deceptive trade practices and $400,000 for unjust enrichment as a result of confusion. Wounded Warrior Project originally filed suit in 2007 against Wounded Warriors, Inc., of Omaha, Neb., which changed its name to Wounded Warrior Family Support.

Following oral arguments in November, the appeal was dismissed on Jan. 12. “It’s probably the largest verdict of its kind on the issue of using a confusingly similar name,” said Errol Copilevitz of the Kansas City, Mo., firm of Copilevitz and Canter, which represented WWP. Based in Jacksonville, Fla., WWP also has offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City. “We found all kinds of evidence of people who had donated to them thinking that they had seen the Wounded Warrior Project featured on national TV and sent money,” he said.

About $429,000 of the judgment has been collected so far, according to Copilevitz, and foreclosure is moving ahead on condominiums and property acquired by WWFS, which it offered to wounded veterans and their families for vacations.

A key issue in the litigation was the website,, which WWFS launched in 2004. WWP registered two websites, and, in January 2003 and March 2004, respectively. In 2005, the organization registered its trademark logo depicting one soldier carrying another soldier on his back.

The Wounded Warriors in Nebraska only had a passive website that generated about $1,400 a month in donations, and did little or no advertising, fundraising or marketing, said Copilevitz, until WWP was featured on Fox television and it started getting upward of $90,000 or more in donations each month. After WWFS was ordered by the court to shut down its website in July 2008 donations immediately decreased 56 percent while WWP’s donations jumped 29 percent, according to court documents.
read more here

I would love to take the easy way out on this and just ignore it but it shows that fame comes with a price.  In this case, I actually agree with the lawsuit.  (I know, shocking for me to say that.) But when you consider the fact that while both groups did start around the same time in different parts of the country, one was not successful until the other one went onto fame and fortune.

Non-Profit Quarterly was a bit more harsh in their assessment of the reports from CBS and New York Times. "Wounded Warrior Project: The Fundraising Factory Issue" Why wouldn't they when the CEO Steve Nardizzi says this?
“I look at companies like Starbucks — that’s the model,” Mr. Nardizzi said.
In the article from New York Times there was this,
Mr. Millette said the charity encouraged him to highlight its role in helping him recover from PTSD and traumatic brain injury. “They wanted me to say W.W.P. saved my life,” he said. “Well, they didn’t. They just took me to a Red Sox game and on a weekend retreat.”

In all the reports the thing that is really missing is how veterans are still being left out of the reporting.  Not just the Afghanistan and Iraq veterans all these new groups seem oh so interested in, but the older veterans none of the new charities are helping.

Why? Anyone care to ask them how they feel to look at their own lives and wonder why they don't matter enough when they waited even longer? Anyone bother to ask them how they feel struggling to keep a roof over their heads when keys are handed to a new disabled veteran to a new home they'll never have to worry about being foreclosed on?

Has anyone asked a Gulf War veteran about their disabilities, missing limbs, burns or whatever the illness ravaging their bodies no one seems to be able to figure out? Anyone bother to ask Vietnam veterans what it is like to be left behind and forgotten about as well? What about Korean War veterans and the remaining WWII veterans? What about the "lesser combat veterans" within this long, long list of combat operations?

When you see a commercial on TV for WWP asking you to donate, you see one thing but I see what is missing. I see the veterans I spend most of my free time with. Older veterans disabled by bombs and bullets, along with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. Above all I see veterans over the age of 50 representing the majority of veterans in this nation as well as the majority of the suicides being left out of all the publicity. 

National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics
"The VA study found that the percentage of older veterans with a history of VA healthcare who committed suicide actually was higher than that of veterans not associated with VA care. Veterans over the age of 50 who had entered the VA healthcare system made up about 78 percent of the total number of veterans who committed suicide - 9 percentage points higher than the general pool."
While the press is focusing on the scandal, as they usually do, they are missing the big story behind all of this.  Again it would be very easy for me to just stay out of all this and avoid mentioning the facts but it wouldn't be right for me to do. I've been doing this for far too long to take the easy way out of anything.

As for the charities fighting among themselves, veterans end up losing because no one is talking about all of them.

Above all else I see the stunning fact that each and every one of the veterans I know live up to the slogan of the Vietnam veterans to never leave another generation of veterans behind.

Older veterans are glad to see the citizens stepping up to help the newer veterans but that does not mean they are not sadden to remember they have been forgotten.

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