This editorial by GunTalk radio host Tom Gresham is reprinted here with permission:

MANDEVILLE, LA – Does the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) have a bias against guns and gun makers? Two weeks ago that would have sounded crazy, but this week many shooters are convinced that it’s true. Hundreds of hunts and shoots are held as fundraisers for the WWP, and gun companies donate to WWP for its projects. How could it be that this $185 million (2013 projected revenue) outfit could be anti-gun? . . .

It started with a simple invitation — I wanted someone from the Wounded Warrior Project to join me for the Veteran’s Day episode of my national radio show, Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk. I had no idea it would turn into a national dustup which now has the gun rights community in a turmoil — so much so that people are burning their Wounded Warrior Project shirts.

We were disappointed when the Leslie Coleman, PR director for WWP, said they couldn’t come on the show, but that happens. Schedules don’t mesh, things happen, but that’s not uncommon. No big deal. Except that Ms. Coleman said they were declining because we “are related to firearms.”

“While we appreciate the interest in having a WWP representative on your show on Veterans Day we are not able to participate in interviews or activities with media/organizations that are related to firearms,” said Ms. Coleman in her email.

That really rocked us because we knew of all the firearms-related activities used to raise money for WWP. I asked for clarification, and Coleman reconfirmed their position. That Sunday I talked about it on the air and sent out a tweet (@guntalk) with the information. Some doubted that I had reported it correctly, so we posted the entire email exchange on our Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/notes/gun-talk/wounded-warrior-project-email-exchange/10151354082553313

That lit the fuse, and hundreds (if not thousands) of gun rights supporters contacted WWP for clarification. The response was . . . a bit bland. Mostly it was along the lines of “We support the Second Amendment . . .,” but the WWP web site specifically called out the firearms industry as one it would not “co-brand” with. That is, it would not allow the use of its logo on guns (and it turns out, on knives, either.)

The other industries it won’t co-brand with? Alcohol and sex.

Coleman’s explanation that guns are used in suicides, and suicide is a big issue for returning vets, set off a firestorm of response. WWP quietly started making changes to its web site, removing mention of firearms, or changing it to “weapons.” Online firearms boards documented the changes, posting the before and after. The pressure mounted on WWP.

By midweek, with the help of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, WWP offered to put its CEO, Steve Nardizzi, on Gun Talk Radio to explain what they now called a big misunderstanding that had been blown out of proportion. I welcomed the chance to clear up this mess, which no one wanted. I hoped that Nardizzi would announce a change in the policy.

He didn’t. Once on the air, he said they support the Second Amendment (which really did remind me of when President Obama starts a sentence that way), and that they participate in hunts and shoots as fund raisers. Yes, we knew that. But what of the policy blocking the use of the WWP logo on guns? In fact, the policy prohibits the use of the logo at fundraisers where there is shooting, though that seems to be flexible.

No, he said, they would not “co-brand” with firearms or knives. The return on investment just wasn’t there, he explained. I asked why they would turn down the money from such a program when it didn’t interfere with their larger projects (ketchup, clothing, etc.), and he explained that co-branding requires much internal coordination with lawyers, PR people, and others to manage it, and that I wouldn’t understand it. Hmmm.?

What if we offered to cover all their internal expenses, and then co-brand (use their logo on guns and knives) as a way to contribute to WWP, I asked. Would that be okay? I never got a straight answer to that.

There was much back and forth, with it quickly taking on the feeling of dealing with a politician who has to be there, but who doesn’t really want to answer the questions. To get the full flavor of the interview, you can download it or listen online. http://tinyurl.com/cugy6ft

Nardizzi even went on the offensive, saying he can’t believe we would withhold donations from wounded vets because we don’t get anything out of it (use of the logo). This feigned indignation didn’t fly. I explained that we have many avenues for donating to our veterans – WWP is only one of many – and that just because someone decides not to support a group which he thinks has taken an anti-gun stand doesn’t mean that person isn’t going to continue to contribute — just to other groups.

Having been in the gun rights fight since before the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968, I’ve seen a lot of changes. For decades I’ve said this fight really is a struggle for public opinion. We have made great strides. Forty years ago a majority of the U.S. population thought that handguns should be severely restricted. That’s not the case now. Through education and exposure the public recognize gun owners as “normal” people just like them. This is huge.

On the other hand, there is a major push to demonize and marginalize gun owners, gun makers, and the shooting sports. It is in this light that I see the WWP policy of prohibiting gun and knife makers from using the WWP logo. What are they telling the world?

Take the longer view. Ebay blocked firearms from being listed. Paypal blocks the use of its service for buying guns. Google blocks guns, dealers and makers from searches in its shopping service. We have reports of banks closing the accounts of gun makers simply on the basis that they won’t do business with the firearms industry.

Each of these is a very public way of saying “We don’t do business with ‘those people’.” Each is a way of saying that reasonable and responsible people should have nothing to do with the firearms business. We are being put into the same box as pornography.

Sure, the Wounded Warrior Project is only too happy to take our money. They “allow” shoots and hunts as fundraisers, but they don’t want their logo associated with us. They are saying in a very public way that they refuse to be associated with us.

Some have suggested that there is pressure from the board, from big donors, or from elsewhere, to prevent the use of the WWP logo on “weapons.” Honestly, I don’t know and don’t care. I just know it to be a continuation of the demonization of firearms, the firearms industry, and those who use guns responsibly.

There is no doubt that the WWP does good work. That’s why I’m left disgusted and sad at this whole affair. But I know that we never win when we shrug and put up with this kind of treatment.

Throughout last week we continued to hear from people and groups which have been rebuffed by WWP because the groups were involved in firearms. One significant donation from a company in our industry was returned because it came though a faith-based foundation.

One element of this rather sad tale has been gratifying. The firearms community responded instantly to this with questions and pressure — so much so that WWP recognized they had to go public to answer the charges. The connectivity of the gun rights movement through the internet made that possible. It has changed the game.

I had hoped that WWP would come to its senses. Once it became clear that the policy would not change, many identified and donated to other groups which help vets, and which are only too happy to be associated with guns, hunting and shooting. Last Sunday I had someone from marineparents.com on the radio show. Each week for the rest of the year, we’ll have various groups which help wounded veterans on the radio to help them get additional exposure.

On Gun Talk Radio I created a “No Shrug” policy. We will always speak up. No longer will we just shrug when faced with a distorted media report about guns. No longer will we just go about our business when a politician makes outrageous claims about gun owners.

No longer will we continue to give money to, or do business with, any outfit which in any way labels us as “undesirables.” To shrug and just go on is to not just accept the demonetization  but it actually agrees with it and supports it.

No longer.

–Tom Gresham

45 Responses to Tom Gresham: Don’t Support Wounded Warrior Project

  1. Doesn’t the CEO of WWP make over $300,000 salary?

    Don’t the top officers combined make over $4,000,000 in salary?

    Who knew it was so profitable to get into the charity business.

    Those are actually two words that should never be used together, its a giant oxymoron. So sad.

    • When I was in business school for my Master’s degree I learned that non-profit organizations can be the dirtiest organizations there are. I’m not saying that WWP is, but I know many others that are. There is a local one near me that is huge and is utterly dishonest. They use their people and have 200-300% overhead.

      • My rule of thumb for a charity goes like this: If over 5% of their funds raised go to “overhead,” they’re dirty and they don’t get my money.

        After finding out what you’ve discovered several years ago, I now no longer donate to charities where I cannot meet the top people in person and examine the books.

        • I don’t need Gresham to tell me where to donate. i usually just give to someone on the street who (could be a vet) appears to need it.

        • IIRC, by law all 501C non-profits are required to be open to examination by the public at any reasonable time…

    • Check out also the CEOs of the Red Cross and United Way. They make pretty disgusting amounts of cash. That’s why I support my local church, who also supports concealed carry, and I do not accept lectures about my “irrational” love of guns and freedom.

        • You say you have a friend who claims his Mosque…whoa there pardner. If you are not a Muslim yourself then you do not have a friend who attends a Mosque. Watch your 6.

    • It’s sad, but nowadays, people need to research charity organizations to check to see their accountability / transparency. Probably the most telling ratio is for every dollar donated to the charity, how much of the money goes to programs to help its intended source vs money spent on CEO compensation, administration, marketing / PR, fundraising, etc.

      I think many people would be shocked to find out that for some charities, the intended beneficiaries receive less than 20-10% of the money. Sad.

  2. Sure, they have a weapon on their logo, but you can’t put their logo on a weapon. Makes sense to me. Soon there will be a good alternative the same way the 2nd amendment foundation has become compared to the NRA.

  3. 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 weapon companies.

    But if you look at their current corporate sponsors you find… Raytheon.

    I don’t mind that Raytheon makes weapons, it just smacks of hypocrisy.

  4. When this first became an issue, along with the over 300K/yr the CEO brings in…..

    I penned a very nice email to them asking for a response…..

    What I received back from them was your typical “canned” response…….

    Will NEVER donate my hard earned money to this to me obvious SCAM outfit!

  5. Being a vet myself I support any legitimate group who helps our vets in any way they can!!
    WWP no longer gets anything from me and I have been telling friends,fellow vets and others to find a better organization to donate to for our vets, and explaining why. So far all of them have quit donating to WWP, and one of them donated his tax return the last 3 years but no more(usually $2-3,000/yr)!

  6. Does the WWP not advertise in gun magazines? I swear I have seen their ads before and the only other magazines I read are emergency medical journals.

    • All the Bravo Company ads in the gun rags have WWP Supporter logo in them. Wonder why it’s OK for BCo to use their logo with scary looking ARs and parts being advertised.

  7. This is so off topic…..but felt compelled to post it. My own Republican Senator, John Cornyn voted to against this measure.

    “Senate Republicans blocked passage of The Sportsmen’s Act, sponsored by Senator John Tester, D-Mont., Monday night based on grounds that it violated the Budget Control Act.

    The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 included 15 bills to benefit sport fishermen and recreational shooters and hunters by providing for increased access to federal land, habitat conservation and improved fish and wildlife management. Most importantly, it prohibited the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from attempting to regulate lead hunting ammunition.

    The measure, S. 3525, failed a budget point of order brought by ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., with only 50 of the required 60 votes.

    The bill had the support of the National Rifle Association as well as the White House, but S. 3525 would have required $14 million in new federal spending, which Sessions said violated the spending levels set in the Budget Control Act. Although he said he supports most of the provisions of the bill, he asked his colleagues not to support it based on budget violations.”

    So, our oh so faithful Republicans (who I voted for) stabbing us in the back. Let’s see 14 mil. That’s what the Senators spend on coffee in a year. Or. That comes out to .0000019% of this years federal budget. If the Democrats had voted against this bill, everyone here would be howling like banshees.

    • This from GOA:
      “GOA warned you earlier this month about S. 3525, the Federal Land Seizure Act of 2012.

      As you will remember, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) — who is “F” rated by Gun Owners of America — is pushing this “hunting” bill which authorizes the Obama administration almost unlimited power to seize private lands for “environmental” purposes.

      While it purports to the contrary, the bill would allow these seizures without the permission of the landowners for virtually any reason.”

  8. Choice is what America is about. WWP chooses to be hypocritical about firearms, knives and the shooting sports. I choose to support another organization. Works very well I think. Thanks for the info. Next…

  9. According to this years Combined Federal Campaign (the yearly federal/military charity drive) handbook, the Wounded Warrior Project is a “non profit” who uses 29.5% of donations for “administrative expenses”. By comparison, Children of Fallen Patriots uses 13.3%, Support our Troops (.org) uses 1.6% and the Fisher House (where families of wounded warriors can stay adjacent to the hospital) is 0%. Heck the American Red Cross, who I consider fairly corrupt, only uses 7.3% for expenses.

    • At one time, I would have agreed with you on the American Red Cross. But not in quite a while. Keep in mind that 7.3% covers ALL the locations worldwide. Over a thousand in the US, with 13 million volunteers, and a presence in 187 countries.

      I consider it a privilege to be a volunteer for the Red Cross. We do good work.

    • I don’t think this “controversy” will reach the msm. Wounded Warrior won’t feel a thing. Well, their execs won’t.

  10. I’m a cop in Tom’s town and have met with Tom on occasions. I respect the hell out of his knowledge of and efforts in the industry and apreciate the support he had given me personally. I am also a USMC Vet who has many friends who have been helped by WWP. I won’t burn my WWP shirts, but I won’t buy another piece of WWP gear. If Tom says they don’t rate, they don’t rate. PERIOD! Semper Fi, Gents! Jason

  11. This is why i give to my church as my pastor approves of beer and guns……not in that order though. He has his own pistol and tells everyone they are free to carry at church. He also partakes in a beer with me from time to time.

  12. Hmmm, one of Bill O’Reilly’s favorite charities. Wonder what he has to say, especially about the 29.5% expenses….

    J.

  13. Sad…my son is an Army Infantry vet of Iraq 06-07. I thought WWP was a good deal…now my money will go to the Fisher House.

    • Joseph… From one vet to another give your son my thanks! Us grunts have to stick together! Army Infantry, 11Bravo30, in Iraq from 91 to 93, LRSC, 1st Cav Division.
      Hope he is ok.!!

  14. From a Australian who wentb through gun control the shut down against anything gun related anything veterans aligned was abused shoved about by various leftists groups , Veterans housing is now full of islamists screaming death to kaffirs( anyone who is not a muslim) and veterans end up on the street , waitibng in ques for medical treatment as its been nationalised here ( obamacare ) and everyone else has more rights and entitlement than veterans do . 28 years i served my nation , and now i’m the enemy , while those who shout death to america death to israel are given public housing welfare and priority for all things over veterans , and folks , this is exactly what they want from you .. your submission to the new order , where guns are bad terrorists are good and the NWO lets you know what you can and cant do , say , go , see, pretty much everything , then taxes you on what you breath out ..

    cheers

    jack

  15. Somehow I missed this bit of news. Good to know, and I will avoid donating to WWP.

    As has been mentioned… it seems many “non-profits” are scams, including the Red Cross. I’ve become VERY skeptical of all charities that are “middle men” for other groups. At this point, I will only donate DIRECTLY to the beneficiaries.

    Disappointment about the WWP. But, sadly, it’s not surprising.

  16. This week I learned WWP also supports the UN Disabilities treaty that would give a UN Committee of thugs the authority to tell us how to remedy disability laws all the way down to the local level, while removing the authority of American parents/family to decide what education and treatments are appropriate for their disabled LOVED ONES.

    John Kerry (remember him?) had the nerve to say “This is for the veterans so that when they travel abroad, their needs will be met.” (paraphrasing, not a direct quote.)

    Only a guy like that could Use the troops in such an offensive way: He uses them to garner sympathy to support a treaty that would give Power to the Very Foreign Enemies those Veterans fought/fight against, in defense of the US and The Constitution. The very liberties many Veterans lost bodies/minds to protect would be handed over to foreign enemies, if this treaty is ratified. And WWP supports it?

    So, this article was the last straw with me for WWP. Double-whammy in one week. Sad. We better tell Trace Adkins!

  17. I spoke to you Robert about having my SB15 promoted by WWP the other day, and as of two weeks ago they were “onboard”. Just wanted to update you that I was getting snubbed now. Luckily I’ve been working with the VA hospital on my own from the begining, so I know many disabled vets and can move forward with reviewing the SB15 with them. What gets me is that my product isn’t a gun. It’s intended to assist those with a handicap. I think it’s pretty sad when you tromp on handicapped vets to maintain an anti-gun “principle”. Disgusting.

  18. I had a WWP envelope come in my mail a few weeks ago, I’d set it aside with the thought of setting up a monthly donation thing….it got covered up with some other mail, and I saw a few days ago, something told me to hold off, not yet, don’t donate and set up an automatic thing with this group (at the time I thought it was just cause Christmas was just around the corner) Now I’m glad that I won’t have to go through the effort of cancelling my donations. Shall look for other Vet Charities that deserve my hard earned money more. I’d seen Bill O and Gary Saniese (sp?) supporting this organization and so thought it was fairly legit.

  19. Wow…like many others, apparently, I leaped before I looked. Had no idea about the ratios. ..I definitely will be doing more research to make sure my money goes where it does the most good…I wonder what Trace and Gary would have to say about these facts….do they get paid to sponsor? Just curious…thanks again for the info and thanks to ALL the brave men and women who served our great country!!!

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