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We All Need to Check our Facts

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Last month I reported that Representative George Eskridge was the last veteran serving in the Idaho House. I believed what I heard from a friend so I put it in the article. Boy was that ever the wrong thing to do! This statement was in error! This mistake was brought to my attention by several people—including Senator Shawn Keough and George himself. 

That’s what I get for not fact-checking statements. Not fact-checking stuff is the cause of more misinformation than anything else. Much of ‘Talk Radio’ suffers from a decided lack of fact checking. They seem to follow the motto of “Don’t confuse me with facts—my mind’s made up!” Or, on a more cynical level, the oft misattributed quote that goes, “tell a big enough lie often enough and people will believe it.” I can find no verifiable source defining the origins of this quote but it is close to a quote in Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

While doing my penance for not checking the facts on veterans in the Idaho House I ran across an interesting factoid. It appears that less than 15 percent of the members of the Idaho Legislature have ever served—or are serving—in the military. The number serving in Idaho is more than many states but still not enough to give veterans a strong voice in the legislative process. It seems that many veterans simply refuse to vote in their own best interests.

Again, while trying to learn just who had served, I ran across an organization named the Wyakin Warriors. This 501c(3) foundation is headed by retired Navy Officer Jeff Bacon. Idaho State Senator Marv Hagedorn serves as Board Vice President and Chief Business Development Officer. Their Mission Statement says, “Enabling severely wounded and injured veterans to achieve personal and professional success as business and community leaders.” These are laudable goals. It sounds good but ever since I discovered the website ‘Charity Navigator’ and learned some disturbing facts about many 501c(3)s I have made it a practice to look at the financials.  

Now, in fairness, the Wyakin Warriors are not represented on the Charity Navigator website. They don’t have a big enough budget. I was able to get their most recent tax statement—it’s on-line—and I had some concerns. I asked a CPA friend to take a look. He made the following comments after reviewing the 2013 form 990:

1) Financially they look solid. Most of their assets are cash and they have very few liabilities.

2) However, operationally, they spend a lot on overhead. Almost half of their current year spending was for payroll and related expenses. Yet their executive director is only paid $27,000. 

3) They don’t seem to be getting much of their money to the vets. 

Ever since I learned of a ‘veterans charity’ that spent over 70 percent of their raised monies towards administrative costs—salaries and related expenses—I’ve been very careful about which charities I support. My BS Meter starts to quiver whenever I see more money going to payroll and expenses than is going towards the veterans. I’ll have to check further before saying anything more.

Speaking of a BS Meter quivering there is an ad that ran in mid July on radio and TV that makes the needle on my BS Meter wrap around the peg. If you believed those ads you would think that the U.S. Congresswoman from Washington’s Fifth District is a positive tiger in support of veterans. It would appear she personally stormed the gates of Fortress VA single-handedly to get help for one of her constituents whose VA claims had been languishing for months. 

If any of this were true I’d send money to her campaign myself even though I live in Idaho and Idahoans have our own crosses to bear. But, alas it ain’t true. The Congresswoman’s voting record clearly shows that she is NOT a friend of veterans. Any attempt to make it appear that she does support any issue of import to veterans and active duty military personnel is an extraordinary distortion of facts.

Speaking of crosses to bear I’ll close with a comment on two of them: Senator Jim Risch and Representative Raul Labrador. Any veteran that supports either of these people is definitely not voting in their own best interests. Even a cursory examination of their voting records will reveal that they have never been a friend of veterans or any part of the military community. Active duty military personnel and veterans had best wake up and vote in their best interests. Don’t listen to candidate’s words—look at how they vote.

Until next month remember this: an informed voter is necessary for a strong democracy

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Author info

Gil  Beyer Gil Beyer A 21 year Navy veteran, lived in Bonner County for over 30 years, Past Commander of the Priest River DAV Chapter and admitted news junkie.

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veterans, Wyakin Warriors

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