Summer Soldiers, Fields of Dreams and Filthy Lucre
The files of the Surrealist Research Bureau finds an anomaly in some who are supposedly 'helping' veterans
As a brief respite I’d like to drift away from our usual otherworldly topics and take you into the Bizzaro world of small town Clark Fork and its Field of Dreams. Reading the July TRJ cover article about the difficulties in planning and building Clark Fork’s new baseball field at Memorial Field struck a nerve with me in that there seems to be a lot of posturing among summer soldiers such as the Clark Fork American Legion, pulling at our heartstrings and patriotism for simple, cold hard cash regardless of the consequences, a sort of “damn the torpedoes” approach from the Bizarro World.
Briefly, you may recall a public-spirited citizen from Sagle, Marv Chapman, donated a whopping 14 cords of firewood to be sold to help raise funds to build the new ballfield. The local chapter of the American Legion, Post 146, offered to cut up and deliver that wood for free. So far so good except that the ballpark group never received a dime; turns out that “donated” labor and equipment by the American Legion cost the ballpark group between $1,500 and $1,700. “Devastating,” said Kasi Snider, who helped head up the fundraising efforts, “I can’t tell you how it feels when people in your own town go back on what they said to you.” “Incredibly embarrassing” agrees Corey Vogel, Chairman of the Parks Commission. “I don’t understand how people can do something like this.” The Sheriff’s Department has not filed any charges, reportedly because there was no written agreement between the two groups. (On a bright note, the Clark Fork VFW donated $200 when they heard about the unsuccessful fundraiser.)
Moving on, CNN’s Anderson Cooper broke a story last May of how the Disabled American Veterans Nat’l Foundation has raised some 60 million dollars from ordinary Americans on behalf of the DAV but not one dime has gone to help them—it’s all lined the pockets of the executives of the Quadriga Corporation, who run the DAV’s fundraising efforts under contract. Charity Watch president Daniel Borochoff notes that 30 veteran organizations were graded for receipt of actual donations and fully 2/3 were given D or F grades. According to Charity Watch, “up to 2 billion dollars is raised annually and a great deal of it is simply wasted.”
Now, I know from personal experience that the local V.V.A. (Chap 890) and the local DAV Chap. # 15 are both above board and transparent. For years I did an annual financial report on both, published in TRJ, showing how all funds raised were spent locally strictly to help area vets and families in need. (Only the local VFW and American Legion Posts refused me access to their financial reports.)
Moving on again, I enjoy going to the monthly Clark Fork Book Club meetings and was really excited about the first book suggested to me there, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, a simple, almost naive travelogue detailing the author’s efforts to build schools in Afghanistan and raise literacy, truly a heartwarming book. I was so moved I’d planned on asking my next Veterans Group meeting to vote on sending a donation to the author to assist him in his efforts. I’m glad it was a few weeks ‘til our next meeting, because just before then, 60 Minutes did a scathing expose of the author; his stories of being kidnapped by the Taliban and building hundreds of schools in remote areas were exposed as flimsy, tissue-filled lies built around a few kernels of fact. His “foundation” seemed to exist solely to fly him around in a private jet to book signings promoting his books, where he either refused to answer his critics’ queries or spoke only to fawning, respectful reporters where he questioned the motives of those who attacked him. The Montana Attorney General (where his foundation is based) recently ordered him to repay nearly a million dollars.
Some seven or eight years ago our Vietnam Vets group sent off a donation ostensibly to a group supporting the U.S. Flag. It turned out to be a cover group whose real agenda was attacking abortion rights. These bastards are really sneaky, they knew we’d never give dollars to such a cause but now our local V.V.A. Chapter is listed as supporting countless right-to-life family issues like anti-homosexual laws, all because of a simple request to support the flag.
I wouldn’t be surprised if most if not all of our local veterans’ groups were taken in by the same support-the-flag ploy.
‘til next time, keep spreading the word; Soylent Green is People! All Homage to Xena!
You can reach Jody at joe(at)riverjournal.com