Disabled Vets and Dead Beatles
In September’s issue of TRJ I told the true tale of how a group called the Disabled Veterans National Foundation raised over 60 million dollars on behalf of injured veterans but that not one penny went to veterans. Instead the whole sum went to lining the pockets of the organization’s executives.
There was a lot of feedback over that article, most of it from PR executives at the national office of the DAV.org claiming that “their” DAV had absolutely no involvement in the whole mess abd no affiliation whatsoever with the group Disabled Veterans National Foundation, which caused the scandal in the first place. Up front I want to state for the record there should be no confusion: the two groups are completely separate. If you consider donating to injured vets and want to be sure of where your dollar goes, I’d suggest giving straight to your local chapter. In our area that’s DAV Chapter # 15/c/o VFW Hall/1325 Pine Street/Sandpoint, Idaho 83864. All funds raised are used solely to assist local veterans and their families with emergency food and medical grants, heating bills and emergency firewood and their books are always open for examination at their monthly meetings.
I helped raise funds to start up our local DAV Van Fund. We started this program to give veterans a ride to and from their appointments at Spokane’s VAMC. The program has been running now for many years and is a more than worthy local cause. The most frustrating part of the fundraising were the roadblocks put in our way by the national DAV, which forbade us from requesting funds outside of our own county. An example may suffice.
When the ex-Beatle George Harrison died, he left the bulk of his then $250 million dollar estate to benefit programs set up to assist the handicapped and disabled. I immediately sent in a request for a grant application, intending to ask for a mere $5,000 to seed our Van Fund. I thought we had a good chance, seeing as how our request was so relatively small and the need was so great. Unfortunately, I had to get prior approval from the national DAV office as well, and I was told under no circumstances could I request funds from the Harrison estate.
The reason, it turned out, was simply that the headquarters of the Harrison estate (based in Liverpool, England) was outside of Bonner County, our sole fundraising locale. I was, and still am, furious. $250 million dollars to be used on behalf of the disabled and we weren’t allowed to even ask for a portion of it? As it turned out, no DAV organizations even applied for any ex-Beatle funds, and they were all distributed elsewhere.
We were fortunate in that a few local charities helped take up the slack (DAR Wildhorse Chapter, Selkirk Realtors, Angels Over Sandpoint, and Panhandle Bank in particular all came through in spades). Still, that long fundraising effort ended up taking twice as long and left a bad taste in my mouth regarding the national fundraising efforts of the DAV. There were a lot of other roadblocks put in our way which I won’t get into here.
My point, if I have one, is that I agree with the “official” DAV that they are not the group (Disabled Veterans National Fund) that dishonored themselves. However, I still find it difficult to believe that group has been gathering funds for years and that the “official” DAV knew absolutely nothing about it. What I’d like to see, though don’t really expect, is for a thorough investigation to take place with the results posted on the DAV’s website for all to see. That “evil” Veterans Group is still soliciting funds, Their website still asks for donations with no hint of scandal.
As I write this I learn they donated some chef’s hats and coats, football pants and other items to an organization called U.S. Vets, then claimed an $800,000 tax deduction for them! (See this CNN story for more information: http://tinyurl.com/aymcgzu).
Once again, If you’d like to donate and help local veterans I’d suggest giving to the local chapter so you can be sure the money is used strictly locally (at the address in the second paragraph). We can also always use volunteer drivers on the Van Project so if you have a good driving record and are healthy, please call or stop by the Bonner County Veterans Service Office at the Federal Building in Sandpoint or call (208) 255-5291.
‘til next time, keep spreading the word; Soylent Green is People! All Homage to Xena!