Wounded Warriors Project Scandal

Posted: March 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

It never fails – something good can easily turn into something bad without much effort. In fact, the more good it is the worse the pain when it disappoints. So it is with the recent scandal of the Wounded Warriors Project.

The WWP has been the poster child for a clear and much needed  outreach to service men and women in all of their various needs – physical, social, emotional. They garnered strong support from generous benefactors and ordinary citizens. Well staffed, fiscally successful, and  programmatically developed, they became the envy of all other veterans organizations and admired by the public at large. Until recently, that is.

Now the truth about their lavish spending on extravagant events, travel and perks has been revealed. It’s not pretty. Much of the donor money was not spent on direct services. It was spent on high rolling executives and their lifestyles.

How sad is this? Such an important need! I think the one quote by a recent veteran who for a time worked for WWP broke my heart: “They were profiting off our wounds.”

It’s an easy downhill slide and other not-for-profits have preceded them on the path of shame. At first excess is explained as necessary for courting people with means. Next it is explained that you have to invest money to make money. And finally there is the argument from success: “Who else could have done this as well?”

The sad part is that WWP has done some very fine things. But these will be lost in the fog of unethical behavior. And even worse is how the scandal has reinforced an already existing skepticism about charitable organizations.

Corruption is a terrible thing and a terrible temptation. Unmonitored power just makes self-benefit too easy. It hurts everyone.

I think of the countless millions that the WWP has raised and spent on themselves and I think of the great contrast with our own All the Way Home program in which we strive to address the invisible wounds of war. We operate with the veritable crumbs from under the Wounded Warrior’s table and even so we try to do a lot with a little. It would be a blessing to have more to work with. But one thing I know: Whatever we become or realize I simply do not want to resemble in any form or degree that which has consumed the WWP. We are just meant to be more than that.

Sorry vets. Sorry donors and people of strong heart. The many are still true and filled with integrity regardless of the excess of the few.

  1. Jane McGuire says:

    Well said.

  2. Lee says:

    How very sad–yet another wound for the ones who have given so much, and collateral damage inflicted on those like All The Way Home who work so hard to help! I only hope that those who will be disillusioned will be able to see the difference between the corrupt and the majority of fine, selfless people serving those who have served us all.

  3. Katherine Kinnamon says:

    Thanks for your response to WWP revelations, Tim. My brother is very involved with vets and care for them, support of them, and is a Viet Nam vet himself. I called him about 3 months ago to ask him what he thought about WWP, because–in my mind–the upscale tv ads with all the celebrities, heart-string stories and songs and, oh yes, blankets for sale–just rang a false note for me. Ken’s response to WWP was cautious and he did what I didn’t do, contacted folks in veteran affairs to get their take on the group, their finances, etc. Not a pretty picture, even with great camera angles. No doubt, as you point out, initial inclinations and intentions were good, but the slippery slope of big money is just that, slippery. Of course, the Church doesn’t have a perfect track record either; so maybe the lesson for me is people in glass houses…

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