WWP vs Gun Talk

| November 14, 2012 | 30 Comments

Several of you have sent us links to the dust-up about Wounded Warrior Project not partnering with Gun Talk for donations to their worthy cause. For those of you might not have heard of it yet, the folks at Gun Talk offered a walk on their program to WWP and Leslie Coleman of WWP declined the offer. the response read;

WWP does not co-brand, create cause marketing campaigns or receive a percentage or a portion of proceeds from companies in which the product or message is sexual, political or religious in nature, or from alcohol or firearms companies.

Our position regarding firearms and alcohol is in response to the struggles that many injured service members face with substance abuse and suicide and the roles those items often play in those issues.

While I may disagree with Coleman on the instances of firearm-related suicides among the troops (many of the suicides are accomplished with motor vehicles, would WWP not take the same offer from General Motors?), but the way I see it, WWP does a lot of good for the troops and at least their hearts are in the right place, although in error. They haven’t spent their money on campaigning for gun control, they have no influence on gun control policy. I think that the good they do outweighs their misbegotten policy.

I’m sorry if I’m not the rabid pro-gun stereotypical nutjob on this that won’t allow deviation from “guns for everyone” policy, but I like to think I’m pragmatic, at least in this regard. Wounded Warrior project hasn’t been harping on gun control or advocating for taking guns from the troops, they just have a policy, like everyone else.

I’ve been kicked off of jury duty because I’m an NRA member. The judges in those cases thought I would be biased and rule in favor of the defendant because I’d think that everyone should have guns. But I don’t, and the NRA doesn’t think, criminals should have guns and someone carrying a handgun in the streets of DC is a criminal since they’re in violation of gun laws that I don’t agree with. What does that have to do with this? Like I said, I’m pragmatic and practical when it comes to guns.

You’re free to disagree with me, like some of you always do, without me going Michael Yon on you. But, honestly, I don’t see the big deal of WWP having a policy against associating themselves with an issue that’s clearly outside their lane.

Category: Guns, Support the troops

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  1. Hondo says:

    Agreed, Jonn. Freedom includes the freedom to be stupid or hypocritical if one desires.

    One could argue that WWP is being either or both here. But that’s their business, and they’re free to make that decision.

  2. rb325th says:

    Well, talk about biting off your nose to spite your face…
    Suicide is not caused by guns or alcohol, or even drugs. It is caused by an individual who has reached their breaking point. A breaking point that can be reached in or out of treatment for the myriad of mental Health issues that are the underlying cause.
    To not accept money from a company because some veteran may self medicate and be an alcoholic, or because some veteran may use a gun to end their life (as opposed to a bottle of prescription meds, a rope, carbon monoxide, death by cop, knife, etc…) is in my opinion nuts.
    There decision though, I hope that Gun Talk finds another well deserving Veterans Charity to sponsor in WWP’s place.

  3. rb325th says:

    Before ROS gets me… it should be “Their decision..”. Damn spell check and me speeding through…

  4. Nik says:

    Wow. I totally didn’t read it that way at all. Maybe I’m missing something.

    I read it as “We want to focus on our cause, helping wounded vets. We don’t want to dilute our message by bringing in other, potentially contentious elements. We just want to help vets.”

    As far is the comments on “..the roles those items often play in those issues..” maybe they’re trying to duck the argument altogether by declaring neither side right or wrong.

    I might be wrong, but it seems as if they’re trying to be Switzerland on this one. They aren’t going pro-gun, and they aren’t lobbying/advertising/etc anti-gun. It sounds like they’re just trying to collect funds to help vets without turning off potential donors by endorsing potential controversial issues.

    What am I missing?

  5. PintoNag says:

    I would disagree with them, but they’re welcome to their views on the matter. I would point out that WWP products (T-Shirts, bags, etc.,) are found in shops that sell guns and gun supplies.

  6. Green Thumb says:

    WWP is preaching hypocrisy.

    Look at their form 990 and who they have recieved in-kind donations from. They probably will not be listed but they should be made available, if requested.

    I agree, they have done alot of good but have slid ethcially over the years. They almost strike me as a for-profit as opposed to an NPO. Just look at the salaries.

    The are 501(c)3, I get this, but they seem to work around it when convienent.

    Just an opinion and observation, no more, no less.

  7. Hondo says:

    Nik: the hypocrisy I see is WWP singling out some legal products they will not endorse – specifically alcohol and guns – because they regard these as “contributory factors” to vet suicides. As Jonn pointed out, so are automobiles and motorcycles – as are ropes and belts, for that matter.

    All of the above are lawful and safe when used properly; all can be used for suicide. It seems to me that a completely neutral policy would either accept contributions/support from all – or from none – of those industries which might produce something that could be used for suicide.

    I would love to know if they similarly refuse funds/assistance from tobacco industries or fast-food restaurants because of long-term health concerns.

    It’s their call to make. I just personally find what they’re doing a bit hypocritical and short-sighted.

    YMMV.

  8. OWB says:

    Anyone who has ever been in a group which must define a mission, draw up contracts, make decisions about who they allow as sponsors and the like understands that a line must be drawn somewhere. It is entirely up to the group to make that decision knowing full well that they will make some people unhappy no matter where they place the line.

    No biggy to me. Has the mission of WWP changed? No?? Then I say that we should keep on keeping on and let them do the same. Now if they change their mission or decide to take a position (pro or con) on something which is not directly related to the care of wounded warriors, get back to me.

  9. Serviam says:

    I think it is more pertinent to discuss WWP and their dominance of the veteran non-profit space. WWP’s CEO makes over 300K a year, the program rakes in revenues of above 70 million a year and spends over 40% on administrative and fundraising expenses. Meanwhile, it only issued 2.3 million in grants to other veteran non profits and foundations and is rated 2 out of 4 stars for its financial transactions by Charity Navigator.

    We’ve got one maybe two years to bore down on creating sustainable programs to serve our brethren before the “sea of goodwill” the American public has displayed as of late evaporates as their memories fade with the 2014 drawdown. Cut the Joining Forces and Got Your 6 crap and lets get down to real services plugging gaps.

    WWP does wonderful work for a cause that is near and dear to many of our hearts, but their services are limited to a select percentage of our veterans. In no way am I advocating for the cessation of donations to them, but as someone who has worked in the veteran advocacy space for going on four years, I’m a bit frustrated when time and time again donors solely focus on this mega non-profit and tend to ignore the plethora of other organizations that serve a broader spectrum of service members and their families. I hope it isn’t so, but I see stormy times ahead for WWP.

    For more info: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=12842 and http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/grants/grant-recipients.aspx

  10. WOTN says:

    I stand with Jonn on this. I disagree with the policy, but it’s theirs to make in a politically divided world. I’ve had to make policies to avoid some topics that I had strong beliefs on, for similiar reasons: it was outside the scope of mission.

    For the record, WWP has one of the best ratings from independent rating agencies, lower than some of the specialized agencies, but higher than most of the big dollar organizations. It certainly does no one any good to tear down such an organization because they won’t wade into a controversial political discussion.

  11. Green Thumb says:

    @9.

    I agree completely.

  12. Just Plain Jason says:

    I went on a Project Oddessy with the WWP and they had two main rules, no firearms and no alcohol. I was cool with it and I understood. You know I can understand why they have the rule, because at one time I wasn’t safe with a gun. I would have hurt myself or someone else. Now they could probably get a lot more donations if they accepted them from other organizations, but they don’t. They have a rule and that is it. If they accepted a donation from the Brady Center then I would be a little upset, this no I’m not too upset about. Plus I have been around some of the people in the organization, they aren’t anti-gun.

  13. Former SSG says:

    I think they may be trying to avoid the mind of controversy that happened to the Susan Komen org when they were linked to Planned Parenthood. Which is fine by me.

  14. Former SSG says:

    KIND of controversy! Sorry for the typo.

  15. Pat says:

    I do agree it’s their decision on guns and alcohol, and as long as it’s a neutral stance have absolutely no issue with it. There are many great charities out there, I do the best research I can with the rating agencies when giving. Understand they may not always be the best measure, but don’t have time or resources to analyze. High percentages going to fund raising and admin usually send me elsewhere. Not that I have a lot to donate, but suspect many may do the same….or perhaps not.

  16. Spade says:

    They’ve partnered with gun companies and such in the past. The Firearms Blog has a picture of a shirt with their logo on it, plus Remington, AAC, Magpul, etc.

    My big problem is with how they worded their statement. The whole “we don’t associate with guns because wounded servicemen do bad things to themselves with them.” thing. That could be plugged right into a Brady campaign press release. That’s my problem.

    Not that it matters, since I don’t give money to charity anyway.

  17. Nik says:

    @16

    “They’ve partnered with gun companies and such in the past. The Firearms Blog has a picture of a shirt with their logo on it, plus Remington, AAC, Magpul, etc.”

    They did? Well that’s a different story.

  18. Common Sense says:

    They have a right to any rules they want to have, just like we have a right to contribute to any charity we wish to.

    I personally give monthly to Team Rubicon, have a variety of projects at Soldier’s Angels, and like to do one time donations to smaller efforts through Kickstarter, Project Valor IT, USO, etc.

    I prefer donations to smaller, more personal efforts, it just means more.

  19. ComancheDoc says:

    They recently sent out a more detailed response to this one because of the talk the first generated, the one i read was posted on facebook for those interested in reading it. I’d link it but I’m pretty sure I’d break the interwebs.

  20. ex AF says:

    AMA has been pushing for MDs to ask if there are guns in the home for over a decade. ER Docs see way too many suicides or accidental shootings of family members. And if you’re in chicago, add in all the ganbangers (Chicago trains all the military docs on gunshot wounds).

  21. Dragoon 45 says:

    Wounded Warrior will not get any donations from me again, nor will I buy any of their branded merchandise. They can arrange hunting and other outdoor events for the veterans they are supposedly helping but will turn around and bite the hand of a firearms organization or supporter when they try to help them out with publicity. That is two-faced as hell.

  22. WOTN says:

    From Nik (#19)’s link:

    “Regarding the question of donations and events, we do permit fundraisers that are shooting- and gun-related, such as gun raffles, shooting competitions, etc., and we’re incredibly appreciative of those who are willing to give their time to host or participate in an event. Likewise, we gratefully accept donations from companies and individuals connected with the gun industry.

    As indicated above, we know that hunting and shooting sporting events can be very therapeutic for many of the Wounded Warriors we serve, and we’re happy to work with the community to make these types of events available to our Alumni. Hunting and shooting sport enthusiasts are an incredibly supportive and generous community, and we’ve been honored by how often folks have opened their land and homes, and volunteered their time to make these types of events possible for our Alumni. We’re so sorry if it seemed that we didn’t appreciate that support with our confusing communication of a business decision. It certainly wasn’t our intention!”

  23. Instinct says:

    Well, they had no problem taking $50,000 from Kahr firearms. Guess their aversion to being affiliated with gun organizations when there are dollars involved.

    Nice bit of hypocrisy.

    So good enough to fuck, but not good enough to take home to meet the parents.

  24. WOTN says:

    Yeah, they mentioned, at that link, that they have in the past, authorized the use of their logo in relation to firearms.

  25. Poetrooper says:

    They would have been far better off to have just stayed away from the issue altogether rather than to announce an apparent major shift in their past policies. They probably let some do-gooder board member with anti-gun sentiments persuade them to announce this policy change which has now blown up in their faces.

    I can’t believe that an organization with the term “Warrior” in its name fails to realize the prominent, damned near sacred, role that weapons of all kinds, especially firearms, play in the warrior community. If this were a major for-profit corporation, someone’s head would roll for making such a boneheaded marketing decision.

  26. Miss Ladybug says:

    It’s not that they said no to money or a partnership: they said no to having WWP representives be on a RADIO SHOW, whose usual focus is guns, to talk about WWP to people who happen to like guns… Stupidity. Of course, this isn’t the only thing I don’t like about WWP. Someone told me – though I have no confirmation – that they require the Wounded to submit to being photographed in order to participate in their activities/event. If that is, in fact, true, that is shameful exploitation, IMO. How many of the wounded are very self-conscious of their burns or missing limbs or scars, but in order to “benefit” from participating in a WWP event, they are expected to prostitute their injuries out?

  27. Green Thumb says:

    @28.

    You are correct in that assumption about the photos. It is called “Warriors Speak”. Loosely translated, they take the worst looking, worst wounded individual, prep a speech for them about how great WWP is and put that individual in front of Congress, the Hill or the public to garner influence or solicit funds. The indivdual usually recieves some attention or a handshake a message of how much they are doing for the “cause”.

    On another note, they fired a director of Warrior Transitions because he was actually checking backgrounds for eligibility as WWP’s ranks have been growing with non-wounded, self-reported wounded, etc servicemembers. This individual was also disabled with a severe TBI, among other injuries from combat. WWP hired him knowing this but fired him for not increasing enrollment at all cost. They actually flew in a VP (first class, by the way-they all fly that way) to terminate this person. Classy. I actually think this individual filed a lawsuit against them for wrongful termination under the ADA. The irony…

    I know this becaause I am a former alumni and had involvement with WWP. Actually, I became disgusted with their ever-changing mission and vision with respect to enrollment and policies. I have noting to do with them anymore, especially considering the info provided on their form 990.

    They have done alot of good, I will admit this, but their ambition to be the biggest and most recognized at all costs has cost them credibility from not only folks suchs as myself, but other large VSOs as well. They actually threatned to sue another VSO due to them collaborating/operating in a similar recreational venue. As I said, classy.

  28. Dragoon 45 says:

    I have already contacted a number of their corporate sponsors and told them I would no longer buy any of their products. WWP started out as a great organization, but has over time become a scam. I was extremely disgusted after looking over their financial statements. WWP is exploiting the wounded for their own financial gain, nothing more. Any good they do, has been erased by their money grubbing actions.

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