Fallout From Wounded Warriors — Part II


by Alex Graham


Any time you have a conflagration of public opinion about a charity, many will rush in from both sides of the controversy angrily proclaiming its innocence or perfidy. We seem to have a similar situation brewing here about the Wounded Warriors Project.

But first, I would like to take a moment to introduce you to the makings of the ‘perfect charity’. In order to gain the trust of Veterans and the caché of respectibility , you must inveigle a certain number of brand-name celebrities or notable persons to front for you. Legitimacy is everything to pickpocketeers and the WWP apparently is no different.

This does not indict the co-conspirators but merely uses them as unwitting pawns. In light of what we are uncovering, many will head for the exits when its excesses can no longer be defended.

The big name players include former Acting VA Secretary Gordon H. Mansfield  (VASEC 2007) and former VA Secretary Anthony J. Principi   (VASEC 2001-2005 Acting VASEC 1992-1993).

Anthony Odierno, son of Gen. Ray Odierno, was drafted to throw in some name familiarity as well. The rest of the bit players reads like a who’s who of former VA upper management and former military procurement rainmakers.

The long and the short of this is that while they all may profess to be pro Veteran, the monetary bottom line is always the common denominator. Here, as with the latest revelations over the exorbitant wages being paid to the Big Six in Veterans Service Organizations, money is King. Dean Graham sent me the latest cheat sheet and Form 990 (59 pages) this morning where the WWP lists the high cost of martinis as an excuse for their abysmal performance in distributing cash.

To put this in perspective, a 100% disabled Veteran like myself is paid $2,973.00 a month for basic disability. I’m greedy and housebound so I’m also trying to attain Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)  ‘S’ of $325.00 a month on top of it. My annual compensation for this is$35,696.00/year.

With SMC S it will hopefully be $39,576.00/year. Some in America liken this to being on the dole. Nevertheless, it was a compact struck between the military and me in 1969. I merely had the misfortune to collect on it. I would be far happier building houses and make $150 K/year like my peers in the business.

Now let us look at those enterprising souls at WWP, who also have to eke out a living in this ugly post-recessionary economy. The picture is glum.

Steven Nardizzi,                  Executive Director                       $333,379

Albion Giordano,         Deputy Executive Director,                $303,373

Jeremy Chwat,           Chief Program Officer,                         $212,233

Adam Silva,            Chief Development Officer,                     $201,854

Ronald W. Burgess,        CFO                                                   $186,757

Christine Hill,                 Congressional Affairs                       $174,030

Ralph J Ibson            National Policy Director                       $166,262

John Roberts,           Mental Health                                        $162,950

John T Hamre,             Direct Response                                $160,445

Bruce Nitsche,                Special Projects                              $159,904

The sum of their hard labors?   $2,061,187.00 in 2011-2012. Fourteen voting members decide these figures. Undaunted by having to file a Form 990, they blithely gloss over their salaries and press on. Four thousand volunteers, many of them unpaid, slave to distribute the largesse.

The flaw in this system is endemic as it is at the American Red Cross and other similarly situated 501(c)(3)s. Too many chiefs getting paid ungodly high wages and thousands of Indians slaving for free-oblivious to what is going on above them.

download12Now let’s take a look at the Veterans Service Organizations who purport, as WWP does, to help Veterans get service connected for their injuries.

In this post I put up in April 2013, I bemoaned the fact that any Veterans organization would petition its membership for donations under the auspices of helping fellow Veterans to pay their CEOs so lavishly.

I suppose if you view it myopically, some of the VSO hierarchy are Veterans and may even be disabled within the tortured meaning of the word. In that case, taking a $250 donation for a life membership at the DAV to help fund the salary of CEO Arthur Wilson is a noble endeavour. Here are annual salaries devoid of the medical/transportation perks.

DAV-Arthur Wilson             2011 wages     $353,519.00

VFW- Lawrence Maher      2011 wages     $238,513.00

AmLeg- Daniel Wheeler    2011 wages      $232,177.00

How these individuals manage to keep body and soul together is beyond me. I won’t venture to guess how many disabled Vets making $35 K a year have to donate in order to keep their aircraft full of  JP-4. But, like the WWP, they too, have their flunkies who must wait on them hand and foot. These individuals also must be remunerated for their hard work-apparently at the prevailing VSO wage rate judging from this.

Name of Key Individual Total Compensation
DAV 2011 Form 990
Arthur Wilson $353,519
Barry Jesinoski $346,450
Christopher Clay $325,890
J. Marc Burgess $263,185
Anita Blum $254,726
Joseph Violante $250,520
Garry Augustine $240,358
David Gorman $208,130
William Saunders $160,458
Total $2,403,236
VFW 2010 Form 990
Lawrence Maher $238,513
Robert Wallace $223,410
Allen Kent $219,142
Robert Greene $197,028
John McNeill $171,980
Richard Eubank $163,679
Richard Denoyer $149,741
Richard Kolb $146,664
Thomas Tradewell $146,269
Total $1,656,426
American Legion 2011 Form 990
Daniel Wheeler $232,177
William Justis $163,871
Peter Gaytan $151,735
Philip Onderdon $151,183
Jeffrey Brown $149,991
Patsy Waltz $138,341
John Querfeld $109,513
George Buskirk $77,291
Jimmie Foster $68,726
Total $1,242,828

So, ladies and gentlemen,. Do you yet see the correlation between Veterans and money? Altruism is dead. The almighty dollar reigns.  Thirty years ago these fellows were all elbowing each other out of the way to serve for free. As some will insist, it takes money to make money.

You can’t schmooze Congressmen without some walking around money and besides, liquor taxes inside the beltway are exorbitant-hence the high cost of lobbying. Likewise you can not minister to Vets without bags of cash and a host of fellow disbursement channels consisting of your good friends and their wives.

Americans have always had deep pockets when it comes to Veterans’ causes and these gomers play on it. What better way to ‘create’ a job out of whole cloth than to fabricate it on the back of Vets? Please do not take this as a blanket diatribe against giving or charities.

There are thousands who contribute their time and labor to make sure our wounded or injured are honored and helped. You can identify them because they have soiled hands and tired countenances and don’t reek of Tanqueray, quinine and a twist of lime. They also don’t drive a Lexus with someone to open and close the door for them.

Rather than try to compile a  detailed, exhaustive list of real charities with real volunteers who perform a valuable mission, I ask you to investigate the bona fides of those you propose to contribute to. A finite review of their IRS Form 990 is often all you need to ascertain who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. The good guys are out there. So is the truth.

VeteranAnd much like the sadness you experience when you see a disheveled soul begging at a freeway off ramp- knowing full well he intends to take your proffered handout and convert it into liquor or drugs- you begrudgingly roll the window down and hand him your tithe.

Giving money to the WWP and their ilk is comparable or maybe even worse. The only difference is that I doubt they drink MD 20-20.

Perform due diligence and do not let your heart be swayed by the words of a few true believers who are too lazy to investigate. Donating is not hard. Donating wisely is.

P.S. And the list of miscreants continues to be mailed in. Member Pop Smoke sends us this on Goodwill Industries. $1million for being a Regional Director while the lowliest worker in the back room is making 22 ¢ an hour ? Yes you read that right. 22/100 of a dollar an hour. How do they sleep at night?

Alex Graham

Gordon Alex Graham is an Air Force Vet.He served two tours back to back in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam from 1970 to 1972.

He is happily married with a daughter and son who just finished Law school at Gonzaga University.

He discovered the damage Agent Orange had done by 1971 when he started coughing up blood for no reason.He filed claims forhepatitis and Agent Orange (Porphyria Cutanea Tarda) in 1994 and was denied.VA never finished the claim. He refiled in 2007 when he became ill and won everything with the same evidence he submitted in 1994. Finally, in November2013, after over nineteen and a half years, VA acquiesced and he won his earlier effective date of 1994 at the CAVC. Thus began the odyssey to help Veterans attain what he feels is the hardest of all claims-HCV. He finally wrote a book about how to succeed at VA claims in 2012.
He plans on a new release of downloadable .pdfs via Amazon for common filings and how to prepare for a win.

Alex discovered the Independent Living program last year and now tries to help other severely disabled Vets attain this goal as well. He is praying for a cure for HCV as his liver shelf life sticker goes Bingo in 8 years.
Alex and his wife live on a pocket 5 acre farm in rural western Washington. He is retired from home building and spends his time writing and helping Vets attain service connection.
He is also author of the book titled Veterans Administration Claims: What You Need to Know to Be Successful

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The views expressed herein are the views of the author exclusively and not necessarily the views of VT or any other VT authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors or partners and technicians. Notices

Posted by on 4:32 pm, With 0 Reads, Filed under Benefits, Gulf War (1990-1991), Iraq War (2003-2011), Support the Troops, Veteran Service Organizations, Veterans, Veterans Affairs, Vietnam War (1955-1975). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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8 Responses to "Fallout From Wounded Warriors — Part II"

  1. Jean Binder  December 30, 2013 at 10:02 am

    My husband and I have often wondered if WWP was an upright organization. Their advertising is VERY good and no doubt worth every penny…to the executives. Their theme song says “Pray for Peace.” That seems to be about the only solution for the ongoing challenge of wounded warriors. It has almost become traditional to ignore them which is shameful. For some to additionally profit richly “on their behalf” is practically criminal in my opinion. For in the first place, these men and women should not have to be relying on the vagueries of public charities. They suffered for us and “us” [US] ought to care for them. Don’t like it? Get better at creating peace. What additionally bothers me is that they give the impression they have their very own elaborate projects for rehabilitation and then we see what they do is chuck some money at the Red Cross and other organizations that have their VARIOUS projects. I’d say it is fraudulent.

    • 60sstreetpunk  December 31, 2013 at 6:52 am

      Jean: I am a vet and my lifelong friend is not but he is very smart. These ads by WWP kept playing on TV and he asked me why public organizations are pushing to help vets and that the VA and other govt organizations should take responsibility.
      I agree with you that it should be the government that sent these vets off that should be taking care of them. Outside help is OK but WWP and others rely on donations, and most of us cannot afford to send monthly checks to all these organizations asking for bucks with some making requests near 20 times per years.
      Also, I have never made a salary like those running these organizations- nothing even close . I guess that is what CEOs feel they are worth.
      I am learning to restrict any sense of generosity.

  2. 60sstreetpunk  December 29, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    I always felt the USO did well for soldiers, etc but I wonder .
    I found it to be a hard pill to swallow that these USOs in many places such as the ones on Army bases are often closed during major holidays just when lonely soldiers need a place to go.

    • Phil Stanley  December 30, 2013 at 5:52 pm

      The organization which best meets the needs of others without paying high wages at the top is the Salvation Army. Thats the only place I will send my money.

    • JS  December 30, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      I was told by a former Salvation Army worker that it’s not true. Compensation can take many forms, besides salary. She said to check out the free and lavish housing, utilities, vehicles, vacations, health care, etc. I have NOT checked out her claims, but it’s certainly possible. Religious organizations routinely supply perks like this to employees, even including groceries. If your physical needs are completely supplied, you don’t need a large salary.

      The business world often does this too. My son-in-law works for a large company. When he was asked to work abroad for 2 years, he was provided with a mansion to live in, fully paid utilities, health care, frequent paid vacations to see friends back home, AND a huge salary.

    • 60sstreetpunk  December 31, 2013 at 6:54 am

      Do most salvation Army workers work free or for little with only the managers getting nice perks?

  3. 60sstreetpunk  December 29, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Thanks again.
    It seems I get 20 donation requests per year from the following: VFW, various Indian tribe charities, and many others and 10 or so from dozens of others.
    I keep getting bombarded by the USO and lots of other organizations- all this on an income similar to yours. Donate to an organization once or twice and you will be bombarded with requests for money. With all the bills and a kid in school I cannot do much . I don’t open these letters nor keep the cards and address labels.
    The VFW cards are terrible-total lack of imagination. They keep sending the same boring, tired, hackneyed US flag greeting cards and address labels. If one kept calendars one would have a dozen.
    By my filing all of this in the garbage,it gets recycled. I have had it! Had it! Enough-they drove me nuts.

  4. sweetliberty  December 27, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    With no conscience, they sleep very well. God I love it when these so and so’s are exposed.

    Thank you, Mr. Graham.

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