FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Wounded Veterans: Charity or Change?

On March 10, Steve Nardizzi was fired as CEO of the Wounded Warrior Project, an $800 million fundraising enterprise which bills itself as a charity in service to veterans. On March 13, the Associated Press wrote about “lavish spending–the group’s annual staff meeting in 2014 cost $970,000, prompting complaints from employees, veterans, and charity watchdogs about profiteering off veterans.”

As a combat veteran myself and the son of a wounded warrior who was awarded a Purple Heart, I find this personally offensive. But the real story is the transformation of charities into financial juggernauts which often rival major corporations. The clothing you donate? It goes into the multi-billion dollar international used clothing trade. The Salvation Army maintains a network of mansions in Southern California in which its executives live. Steve Nardizzi of Wounded Warrior received annual compensation of $473,015.

The highly visible charity approach of Wounded Warrior also serves to divert attention from the ongoing abuse and trauma suffered by our veterans.

As of 2013, retroactive benefits had been paid to the families of nearly 19,500 veterans who died waiting for treatment by the Veterans Administration. Just under 600,000 claims for disability compensation have been designated as backlogged. There are currently a quarter million veterans appealing decisions to deny or limit their disability claims, a 50 per cent increase since Obama took office. The Board of Veterans Appeals expects the number of pending cases to double over the next four years. A veteran who takes such an appeal through all available administrative steps faces an average wait of 1,598 days. Do the makers of drones ever have to wait for their payments? Are their invoices ever returned as “denied,” as are countless veteran applications for disability?

A Pentagon advisory panel recently proposed eliminating the pensions of all military personnel. Twenty-two veterans take their lives every day. The suicide rate for young male and female veterans is growing.

On any given night, there are at least 420,000 veterans in the United States who are homeless. The rate of foreclosure is skyrocketing in the 163 Zip codes located closest to military bases.

None of these problems can be solved by charity. They could be solved if everyone donating to the likes of Wounded Warrior were mobilized into a political force to make it happen.

More articles by:

Lee Ballinger, CounterPunch’s music columnist, is co-editor of Rock and Rap Confidential author of the forthcoming book Love and War: My First Thirty Years of Writing, interviewed Honkala for CounterPunch. RRRC is now available for free by emailing Ballinger at: rockrap@aol.com.

April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail