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Wounded Warrior Project Backpedaling on Gun Stance

Perspectives  November 15 2012
 — By CJ Grisham
Wounded Warrior Project Backpedaling on Gun Stance

After a few days of getting bludgeoned over the head with bad press and threats of recalled support wafting through the ether, Wounded Warrior Project has seen fit to pretend that it was all just a misunderstanding.

In an effort to clarify the WWP position, Professional Outdoor Media Association reached out to the organization for comment. After multiple request by phone and email, they finally responded to POMA. In typical fashion of organization caught red-handed with policies they obviously didn’t want exposed, WWP attempted to convince the public that is was all just a huge misunderstanding.

Thanks so much for reaching out to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) and for providing an opportunity to clarify matters. Let me start off by saying that we have seen through this process that the language on our website and our response to Mr. Gresham wasn’t clear and we are working on clarifying our approach. There is now much inaccurate information about WWP being anti-gun rights, an issue as an apolitical organization we do not take a stance on. We understand and appreciate that many of our Alumni are gun owners and we facilitate multiple hunting and outdoor opportunities for our Wounded Warriors throughout the year.

The response goes on to note that IN THE PAST WWP has allowed their logo to be used on guns, knives, etc. WWP representative Ayla Hay claims that “we’re not going to offer our logo to appear on weapons anymore – whether they’re guns, knives, bows, swords, or any other type of weapon” and that “this is purely a business decision based on a review of a return on investment, especially when compared with other types of cobranding ventures.”

That’s interesting. Let’s go back to what WWP said to Gun Talk Radio in refusing to come on their show.

WWP does not co-brand, create cause marketing campaigns or receive a percentage or a portion of proceeds from companies in which the product or message is sexual, political or religious in nature, or from alcohol or weapon companies.

Notice in that response that they merely quote a disclaimer verbatim from their site. The invitation to come on the show clearly had nothing to do with co-branding, but to highlight a supposedly-great organization that supports veterans during, um, Veterans Day!!

In the latest slight of hand, WWP wants you to forget what they originally told Tom Gresham as a reason for denying the interview request.

Regarding the question of donations and events, we do permit fundraisers that are shooting- and gun-related, such as gun raffles, shooting competitions, etc., and we’re incredibly appreciative of those who are willing to give their time to host or participate in an event. Likewise, we gratefully accept donations from companies and individuals connected with the gun industry.

However, this directly contradicts their policy of receiving “a percentage or a portion of proceeds from companies in which the product…from alcohol or weapon companies.” I mean, it’s pretty clear here what Wounded Warrior Project is saying. So, does WWP accept donations from “individuals connected with the gun industry” or not?

Here’s my analysis of the situation: the administrators of WWP that rely on the 55% of all donations that go to them instead of the wounded warriors they are purposed to support are afraid of losing that money. Not because it will affect their support of wounded warriors – because only 43% or so of donations go to them – but because they need to protect all those six-figure salaries. There has been an overwhelming backlash from donors that are upset with their position and their status is threatened. I think it should have been threatened nearly six years ago when they decided to start suing smaller organizations dedicated to also serving wounded warriors. Those actions alone told me everything I need to know about Wounded Warrior Project.

So, now WWP wants to go on Gun Talk Radio, but not to talk about their policies. “I hope the above provides some clarity,” said Hay. “We welcome the opportunity to have a warrior on Mr. Gresham’s show to discuss how hunting or events of the like have supported their recovery. We responded too quickly to his request and should have delved a bit deeper.”

The problem now is that this is no longer about how WWP does or doesn’t support wounded warriors (and I argue they don’t more than they do). This is now about their confusing and contradictory policies and stance on firearms. And Tom Gresham isn’t biting either.

This afternoon I issued a new invitation to WWP, though an email to Leslie Coleman, to be on my radio show to clarify your position on firearms. I note in your email your interest in being on the show. While it would have been appropriate last week to have a warrior on the show to talk about his or her activities with the WWP, at this point, the story is about your policy.

I would welcome any spokesperson from WWP on the show to talk specifically about the policy about firearms. I certainly will give you the floor to clarify your position. There are many questions, as you know. Nothing in my email exchange with Ms. Coleman was about cobranding. It was clear that the WWP would not appear on my radio show because we talk about firearms. That certainly is your prerogative. There is, however, much confusion with those who have donated to the Wounded Warrior Project (individuals and corporate donors) on what appears to be a discrepancy — WWP will not appear at events or talk to media when it’s about firearms, but WWP is okay with taking those donations.

Keep up with this interesting saga on the Gun Talk Radio Facebook page where updates are shared as they arise. I whole-heartedly support GTR here.

NRA board member Todd Rathner isn’t happy either, according to GT’s Facebook page.

Dear Ms. Coleman,

I am a member of the National Rifle Association board of directors. I have been made aware of the WWP’s policy of not associating with firearms companies, or the firearms industry.

I find this policy absurd. I want to inform you that as a member of the NRA board it is my intention to introduce a motion at our January board meeting to assure that the NRA does not promote, support, or in any other manner support the WWP. I will also request that the NRA’s 4 million members and their families are made aware of your anti-gun position.

Thank you for your time.
Todd Rathner

Keep in mind, this isn’t the official position of the NRA, just Todd’s opinion right now. But, I’m pretty sure this has WWP spooked as much as anything.

If you were once a supporter of Wounded Warrior Project and have decided they will no longer receive another cent from you, may I recommend two organizations that are worthy of that money instead? The Semper Fi Fund has created a second organization called America’s Fund and at the moment, they are focusing on family assistance grants so that family members can be at their servicemember’s bedside and not worry about a mortgage, lost pay, childcare, etc. America’s Fund is for all branches of the military whereas when Semper Fi fund was started to support wounded/injured and ill Marines, Corpsmen or any servicemember from any branch attached to a/ or in support of a Marine unit. Both are worthy recipients of money you would like to earmark towards helping wounded veterans and their families.

If you really want to stick it to WWP for their oppressive actions, may I recommend donating to Wounded Warriors Family Support? This is the organization that was started by Retired Marine Corps Reserve Colonel John Folsom as Wounded Warriors, Inc. They were sued by WWP because of the name. Both Wounded Warriors and Wounded Warrior Project were started at about the same time. However, WWP had aspirations to be a big organization and quickly went after big corporate sponsors. Wounded Warriors was more of a grass roots organization at the time. Eventually, John felt compelled to change the name of his organization to Wounded Warriors Family Support. This great organization provides support to the families of those who have been wounded, injured or killed during combat operations. The families of our casualties suffer in many ways: some financially, some psychologically.

Photo credits: An injured soldier receives help to change his shoes for the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride, New York, July 23. The bicycle ride through Manhattan is part of the organization’s goal to raise awareness for those who have been injured while fighting overseas. Photo by Sgt. Randall Clinton.

(22) Readers Comments

  1. All of the WWP Properties in Texas are legally posted 30.06 (No carry of firearms by Licensed Holders). I suspect all their Properties Nationwide are posted with similar signs.

    They are a lying, two faced organization that although they do some good for our Veterans, they roll in the dough themselves ($320,000.00 yr for CEO) and do not support or agree with the 2nd amendment rights of individuals.

    • I dont know there stances and dont like getting into politics but as a wounded warrior alumni member i feel i should point out that They do alot of gun related events.

      I am hoping to take part in a guided hunt, when it is close enough to be to be realistic.

  2. Nice post! What a heart touching story. Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed reading this.

  3. In considering adding a monthly contribution to WWP.
    $19.00 times 43% = $8.17 to veterans
    $19.00 times 55% = $10.45 to WWP administation
    maybe 2% or $0.38 to fundraising costs?
    If these numbers are close to accurate, maybe I should cancel my current contribution and find a better organization to do what WWP claims to do.

  4. It is time to have the CEO of WWP lookng for a job that does not prey on those that have given so much to protect our country. I remember so well how WWP ‘had no funding’ to get the project started; all available start-up funding had been used for salaries………….

  5. I’ve been an engaged alumni with WWP for many years now after being injured in Iraq and can tell you personally the many healing moments I’ve both seen in person over the years of other warriors as well as myself. I will continue to stay engaged with WWP no matter what you write because my life has changed for the better since being involved with them. They’ve done a lot in legislative areas as well as various other programs and those of us that have benefited from it will be forever grateful. They’ve doubled the amount of alumni in less than a year and serve over 24,000 wounded warriors now. That is not a small crowd.

    I appreciate your point of view on this subject and your willingness to write about the issue, but I found some misinformation in your post. Below is from the BBB official charity navigator after I searched a few other places for more up-to-date info. See for yourself here: http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/veterans-and-military/wounded-warrior-project-in-jacksonville-fl-3806/financial

    Uses of Funds as a % of Total Expenses

    Programs: 83% Fund Raising: 13% Administrative: 4%

    Total income $123,869,345
    Program expenses $89,466,336
    Fund raising expenses 13,883,984
    Administrative expenses 4,727,106
    Total expenses $108,077,426
    Income in Excess of Expenses 15,791,919
    Beginning net assets 14,565,525
    Ending net assets 30,357,444
    Total liabilities 6,035,145
    Total assets $36,392,589

    • There is no doubt that there are wounded troops that are served by WWP. No one has said here or anywhere else that WWP does NOT take care of them. There will always be stories of troops that have been well served by the organization. However, I stand by my criticisms of the organization that I think can do a lot better if they focus on their mission. Thank you for your service and sharing your story.

  6. Well, I just finished reading an article on guns.com that has the so-called CEO of WWP trying to wiggle out of what has been said.

    Here is the link: http://www.guns.com/wounded-warrior-project-gun-talk-11502.html

    I have a real problem with their response. If you’re not willing to stand with us, then why should we give you our money? In lieu of being a principled charity (one that stands for certain values, i.e. pro-Constitution), WWP is a politically correct charity – one that makes every effort to be as non-controversial as possible. I’ve found other charities to give to so the WWP is off my list until they show some principles, character, courage, etc. As of now they are just another PC charity shilling for $$$.

    S. Newman, United States Army (Retired)
    First Sgt/Master Sgt, Infantry/Cavalry/Armor
    Aug. 8, 1968 – July 1, 1992

    “This nation will remain the LAND OF THE FREE ONLY so long as it is the HOME OF THE BRAVE.” — Elmer Davis

    “An HONEST but MISTAKEN man, once shown the TRUTH, either CEASES to be MISTAKEN or CEASES to be HONEST.”

  7. First Disabled Veterans and now WWP! This is outrageous. I want to help our returning vets, esp. those who have been severely wounded, and their families. It seems that there are no truly honest organizations that rasise funds and used those fund primarily to help our veterans. As far as being PC, my feeling is that they should be neutral on politics and focus on their MAIN objective of helping our wounded miltary families.

    • Look into Bill O’Reilly’s charity that he promotes on his show on FOX News……..they do great work, giving these “track type” wheel chairs to wounded Vets. I believe it is a great place to help these terribly wounded Veterans get back out in public, even in the woods with these chairs. Do a little research and see what you think.
      A Proud Vietnam Vet.

  8. I have been reading all the comments here… I published an poster about this exact thing…charities that pay their CEO’S and officers extreme salaries…and give very little to the vets… my suggestion is if you want to give to support veterans do so in your home town and state… organizations like the VFW, American Legion, and many like them exist near you and are strictly volunteer and pay no salaries… all the money goes to the veterans… Check them out… they all need help to carry out their ongoing programs…. thanks for reading…

  9. As a 15 yr US ARMY MEDIC, Wounded Warrior, VA Healthcare Employee, WWP Alum., recipient of their Programs and Services, donator, and organizer of a fundraising event. I will agree that the WWP could better focus on the veterans they serve by continuing to remain neutral, and not cater to the calls to become a “principled” charity. If the public wish to honestly donate to help combat wounded, they could not find a better organization that has developed working programs and life-changing services that go unmatched. The breadth of their reach is enormous, take presence in Landstuhl for example. If we could relax with all this BS about defining a stance on gun rights, religious affiliation, an other inconsequential matters hyped by articles and media, only looking to stir the pot, and return our focus to the real issues, do what they offer work? Ask a Wounded Warrior.

    A warrior is just thankful for your generous donation, while struggling through rehabilitation, and through transition, I was thankful for the support I found in the WWP, I did not care whether the Org. was Pro-Gun, Pro-Same Sex Marriage, Anti-abortion, Anti-cute lil puppies, in fact, I cant remember a time any fellow warrior taking time away from their personal struggle, to ponder such matters. I was happy to feel the support, and know that my fellow battle buddies were offered the same outstanding opportunities. To try to goad the WWP on a radio program, or through an article, is in reality, a disservice to the very warriors you claim you think they should focus on. C’mon man, you know full and well, the radio show would try to get them to define their policy, which truly is of no consequence they are not that naive, and neither are we. Shame on you CJ, tsk…tsk.

    • There is no shame I stand in need of owning. The WWP numbers speak for themselves. The fact that over $.40 of every dollar goes to overhead and not to programs speaks volumes to me. Do they help wounded warriors? Absolutely? Could they do more? Absolutely!

      Did you know that the organization you are supporting charged anyone that wants to raise money on their behalf a $100 fundraising fee?! They have at least ten officers making over $126,000. The Executive Director makes over $300,000. This is money that people are sending to the organization to help Wounded Warriors and it’s going into the greedy palms of board members. They spent over a million dollars just in lobbying.

      When you remove the income claimed by WWP as donations-in-kind, their percentage of money going towards program plummets from 86% to less than 50%.

      WWP has made it clear they were anti-gun and they’ve made it clear they don’t want religious donations either. Just because you’re one of the few people that WWP has touched in a positive way doesn’t make WWP a positive organization. They have other self-interests they are trying to protect.

  10. Since you are opposed to the Wounded Warrior project, as am I, due to their hypocritical stance concerning their relationship with gun manufactuers, and, by extension, gun ownerswho support these companies, I find it appalling and also hypocritical on your part to accept advertising money from the Wounded Warrior Project!

    Unbelievable! Is the almighty dollar all that matters?!?!


    • I don’t accept advertising dollars from WWP. I never have and never will. Not sure where you even get that fiction from. The only advertising money I get is from USAA.

  11. As a former soldier and officer of the Army Infantry I find it disturbing that we are sending our soldiers off to fight wars for corporate profit and greed and then call them warriors when they come home maimed or dead.We then complain when some greedy tax exempt corporation makes a profit off of them.I guess when you’re fighting wars of conquest for the bankers you are called a warrior like the Roman soldiers were called.It makes me sick and there’s no way I would donate a dime to this outfit.Welcome to the new unholy Roman Empire.

  12. I am very sad to see such a fine organization stand on the backs of the wounded to make a great program a politcal one, shame on you. I was wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, when I woke up in Afghanistan the clothes shaving kit they gave me were WWP, i was very proud of all the WWP items and still have them. I believe fully that WWP is being run properly and the staff is getting what they deserve so why turn it into a Anti gun organization?

    • Why? Because of the money that goes into the pockets of the people that are running this organization. That’s why. I am a Vietnam Vet, who has benefited from the VA….and all they have to offer wounded Vets. I would suggest that anyone…….ANYONE, who takes money OUT OF the donations of citizens to pay extreme salaries to their board members, is NOT interested wholly in the success of the returning Veterans.
      A Proud Vietnam Vet!

  13. Here in Alaska, we have a very low tolerance for “PC bullshit” like this latest shot from WWP. I am a veteran, a long time NRA member, and until now a contributor to WWP. Good luck to them when this becomes widely known.

  14. One of the most painful parts of this discussion on the WWP is their rejection of our Second Amendment Rights. Most of us have come to expect some “skimming” from many organizations, but not honoring an oath is akin to leaving a buddy on the battlefield. When people take donations under the guise of doing good things for veterans, and then won’t stand for rights those men and women died for, and were maimed for, they show their true character, or lack thereof. They should be very ashamed.

    I served our government forty years with twenty of those years in uniform. It always disturbed me that, with reenlistments, or change in jobs, I had to swear again the same oath, a portion being; “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;” You see, the “Oath, once taken, is a lifelong obligation and it has no expiration date. It only expires when one gives his or her life for this country, and while honoring that oath. My initial oath of enlistment has served me well lifelong. Those of of us who’ve taken the oath stand ready to honor it every day of our lives. Increasingly now, our enemies are domestic. Never forget!

    The most important consideration in deciding whether or not to donate to a given organization should be a review of their philosophies. As far as I’m concerned, the WWP is on the same level as the dirtbag who left a buddy on the battlefield. Anyone leading the WWP, who has taken the oath, should be served symbolic dishonorable discharge papers. What could a man not possibly understand about a duty to preserve the Bill of Rights?

  15. If they cant tell the truth and stand behind thier statements then I cant trust them with my contributions!

  16. I have always been a supporter of our Vets and Wounded Warriors. They have sacrificed so very much for our freedom. I have provided complimentary hunts to assist them with filling their freezers with meat. I was contacted by the WWP to provide additional hunts, but was told they could not support the use of weapons. I was shocked. They trained our troops in the use of weapons, sent them into a war zone where they were injured, and then they say they need me to provide more hunting opportunities for the warriors, but they do not support weapons of any kind. I do not approve of talking out of both sides of your mouth. Logically, they know the warrior must use a weapon to conduct the hunt. This organization is funded by the public that truly wants our warriors to receive all they so justly deserve, but the public needs to know the truth. I will always continue to assist our Wounded Warriors and Vets, but I will no longer support the WWP.

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