Sunday, February 10, 2008
Scamming in the name of War Veterans
Their sister organization is named "Help Hospitalized Veterans", HHV!
- An envelope arrived in our office the other day. It had the bulky, tawdry look of junk mail: pink and lavender Easter eggs, a plastic address window and a photo of a young man in fatigue shorts using crutches to stand on his only leg. “Thousands of severely wounded troops are suffering,” it read. “Will you help them this Easter?”
- It was a plea for money from the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, one of the worst private charities — but hardly the only — that have been shamefully milking easy cash from the suffering and heartache caused by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- The coalition and its sister organization, Help Hospitalized Veterans, were among a dozen military-related charities given a grade of F in a study last December by the American Institute of Philanthropy, a nonprofit watchdog group. These and other charities have collected hundreds of millions of dollars from kind-hearted Americans and squandered an unconscionable amount of it on overhead and expenses — 70 percent or 80 percent, or more. The usual administrative outlay for a reputable charity is about 30 percent. Money that donors surely assumed was going to ease the pain and speed the healing of injured soldiers went instead to junk-mail barrages, inflated executive salaries and other forms of corporate-style bloat.
- And what did the soldiers get? Try almost $18.8 million in “charitable” phone cards sent to troops overseas in 2006 — not to let them call their families, but rather to call up a stateside business that sells sports scores.
- And think of what Mr. Chapin told the House committee when asked what would happen if his charities ever told donors where their money went. “If we disclose, which I’m more than happy to do,” he said, “we’d all be out of business. Nobody would donate. It would dry up.”