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.
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|
|J. Marc Burgess||$263,185|
|VFW||2010 Form 990|
|American Legion||2011 Form 990|
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.
And 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?
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