Thursday, February 11, 2016

Wounded Warrior Project finances War Propaganda with donations

The Wounded Warrior Project is now being exposed widely by some of the mainstream media organization, at least to some degree. CBS reported a three part expose and several major outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post followed suit.

However they haven't reported all of it, even though some if their problems can be exposed without much research, just a little logical deductions; and they weren't the first ones to report this.

(Update: since this was first posted they've tried to repair their image and improve on the effectiveness of their propaganda without addressing the concerns mentioned in this article, including emotional claims from veterans, who may or may not believe their own propaganda saying, "I'd do it all again," even though they should know by now that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. additional details were added at the bottom of the article.)

Apparently several organizations including Veterans Today and The Greanville Post exposed it previously and they may have been intimidated into retracting their reports some of which I can no longer find on the internet. They now claim that the retraction should be retracted. I saved a link which no longer works so I'll get back to that below.

One of the simplest way to recognize this scam is simply to consider how they pay for the enormous amount of ads that you see on TV. If they aren't paying for them out of a portion of the money they collect from donors where else could they get the money to pay for it?

Is the media donating free air time to charities? Hardly seems likely, especially when they don't attempt to use it to improve their own image. They have enough credibility problems of their own and it would be hard to believe that they would pass up an opportunity to take credit for raising money for Wounded Warriors without charging them.

This same method is used for all high profile charity organizations that rely heavily on commercials in the media. The overhead for high advertising costs is high and the scrutiny is limited if it exists at all, especially if it spreads propaganda that the political and media establishment supports, which is the case for War Propaganda.

Most small local charities are much more likely to use higher portions of the money they collect on the causes they support assuming, they disclose what they're doing and keep their overhead down. This means the people that donate can participate sometimes by donating time as well as money, which could enable them to see how effective their work is locally.

Another major issue that should be considered is why the government isn't taking care of these veterans as they promised. And the fact that they're routinely exposed for sending troops to war based on one lie after another. When these lies are reported in the traditional media they're often quickly forgotten while the propaganda is repeated over and over again.

The same goes for the scandal about the Wounded Warrior Project. There were a handful of stories including the one at CBS, which is probably the highest profile, in the mass media over the course of about a week and they're already quickly forgetting them. However the Wounded Warrior commercials keep on coming over and over again and the media is making a profit selling them air time.

What makes this fit the definition of propaganda is that they misrepresent veterans and their problems without necessarily helping the wounded warriors. One of the most important thing they do is help glorify war without mentioning the politics behind it or the that the most effective way to help wounded warriors is simply stop sending them to wars based on lies so they don't get wounded in the first place.

This glorifies warriors in an inaccurate manner and fails to mention some of the most important things that they do, including, in some cases, exposing government lies or indoctrination techniques. The same goes for other industries that use war propaganda and pseudo-patriotism for marketing purposes like USAA insurance or New Day Financing. These advertisements repeat the propaganda image about veterans fighting to defend our country without reminding them that they've been betrayed by there leaders who sent them to war based on lies. This glorifies the veterans for the wrong reasons and indirectly glorifies the deceptive wars we continue to fight.

And these are still for profit industries even if they try to make themselves sound like charitable organizations that care about the best interests of veterans. Like any other insurance company USAA is dealing in an industry that is based on pooled risk and the more money they spend on deceptive advertising the less they have to pay for claims. And in order for them to maximize profits they have to minimize expenses including claims. I don't know if they're any better or worse than any other insurance company but war propaganda doesn't improve their ability to pay out claims and according to USAA Complaints and Reviews they have their share of problems. A search of other insurance companies will also turn up many more. Insurance is an ineffective scam which can't possibly pay out more than they collect and has to subtract overhead and profits.

New Day is no better nor are typical banks now that most if not all accountability has been eliminated with deregulation as confirmed by a recent article, CFPB Takes Action Against NewDay Financial for Deceptive Mortgage Advertising and Kickbacks, (02/10/2015) which only gets a fraction of the coverage of their propaganda.

As I reported previously in Philip Zimbardo, Lucifer Effect, Stanford Prison Experiment and Eli Roth’s Milgram/Obedience experiment much more extensive than most people realize the government with the backing of the military has financed research that clearly could help developing boot camp indoctrination techniques that teach cadets to blindly obey orders and believe what they're told from their leaders, or at least they try to teach this, although it doesn't always work. The cadets that don't recognize this indoctrination often become more susceptible to propaganda like this. Some of those that do recognize it often speak out against the lies they've been told to send them to war.

War propaganda whether it comes from Wounded Warriors, USAA the government or anywhere else typically glorifies the veterans that accept their indoctrination without question, or at least they seem to. But when it comes to giving them the services they were often promised they don't come through. And those who do recognize government lies and speak out against them are often intimidated and demonized, in some case they might even be called a "coward" even though they're the ones speaking out against powerful and deceptive institutions.

Additional research in advertising and other psychological research also helps them to recognize what kind of pitch large segments of the public are willing to fall for. Trace Adkins folksy and caring voice along with good music puts people in a mood to stir their emotions. Additional propaganda could even include one of his best videos, which wasn't directly part the war propaganda effort, with him taking a small girl fishing and gently returning the fish they caught at the request of the little girl who was very caring and nice. One of the good guys our country is trying to protect? That's the image they're trying to give the public by associating this good reputation with the Wounded Warrior Project.

Don't get me wrong that doesn't mean I don't like his music; I think it is great. But that is what makes it so useful for propaganda purposes. Good music can be used to inspire people for the right reasons as well as the wrong reasons and just because we like the music being used for propaganda doesn't mean we shouldn't scrutinize the message and ensure we're not falling for propaganda.

The boot camp practices developed with the help of obedience to authority experiments and other research also creates a hostile environment in the military and, in many cases, teaches them to deal with problems in a violent manner. This has unintended consequences that aren't mention in war propaganda that glorifies veterans, as I reviewed in several posts including States with high murder rates have larger veteran populations and Teach a soldier to kill and he just might, where I discussed a large number of veterans that have been involved in shooting incidents, most of which weren't reported widely.

The typical response to reports of these shootings is that this doesn't mean that all veterans are violent murderers or damaged goods, which is of course true, most of them aren't. Further evidence to indicate that most of them aren't damaged good is demonstrated when some of the people that do the most to try to acknowledge and fix this problem are other veterans. When these veterans try to fix the problem in the most effective way possible, by acknowledging the problem and the root causes, they aren't glorified by war propaganda which, instead tries to cover this up and pretend this problem doesn't exist at all.

Veterans and families of veterans are the most likely to be victimized by PTSD or other domestic related problems leading to violence. Many of the stories about veteran shootings involve killing other veterans or their own families. The most effective long term solution to this is simply to stop maintaining a permanent state of war by supporting tyrants and selling weapons all over the world, including a large number of them that routinely get turned against our veterans.

Instead of informing the public about these problems and many more War Propaganda from Wounded Warriors Project, USAA, NewDay and many other sources presents a false description of military action glorifying the wrong people for the wrong reasons and often demonizing those that try to solve the real problems. And on top of that even the veterans that are glorified continue to go without services they need because the money is used for the wrong reasons.

Selling of donations or sales lists is are also quite common in our current political and economic system and this can be used for propaganda or political purposes to target people susceptible to propaganda.  At least one of the reports about Wounded Warriors Project has said that they do this and since it is often done in secrecy we have no way of knowing it USAA, New Day or many other organizations do this.

And, in Wounded Warriors case they even used the threat of legal action to silence their critics, at least temporarily and forces some legitimate charities to use them to defend against lawsuits.

One of the first disclosures of their corrupt practices appears to be "Wounded Warriors Project A Legal Scam," by Alex Graham, which was originally posted on Veterans Today but they were threatened with legal action and removed it and posted a retraction, which perhaps should be retracted. This was apparently reposted on Facebook 01/18/2014 and there are other stories that they weren't completely able to censor still available.

Veterans Today still posts their retraction, but no claim Wounded Warrior Scam: Retraction Needs Retraction, 01/28/2016 as of this writing that hasn't happened yet, and only those that search the wright places can find the original article. Greanville Post also wrote an article citing the Veterans Today article with additional comments, and as of this writing, As We Suspected Wounded Warriors Project Is A Legal Scam, 01/03/2015 this article has also been deleted. I wrote them to find out why and if they intended to repost it and was informed that the Greanville Post was not intimidated directly; however they did delete it at the request of the author who was threatened with a lawsuit.

They didn't give up after deleting that post, at the authors request though; they posted the following article, which echos some of my views before I found time to write them, and months before the mainstream media paid any attention, along with previous reports even earlier:

Wounded Warrior Project: Marketing wars, indirectly, on the backs of the wounded——and getting rich in the process. 06/22/2016

You have surely spotted one their commercials. They spend millions airing them. They normally feature a celebrity, like Trace Adkins, or Dean Norris. The message is always the same: Help our wounded “warriors”. In my time we called ourselves “soldiers.” Now, when we need to cosmeticize our ugly wars, and the public infantilization via television allows for such whorish grandiloquence, the old GIs have become “warriors.”

These campaigns, besides the questionable use of the funds collected (WWP’s CEO, Steven Nardizzi makes $375,000 a year), are devious instruments to propagandize imperial wars (a variant of the “support our troops” shopworn, dishonest appeal). For how can you easily separate the soldiers fighting a war from the war purposes themselves? You can’t. To most people, if the soldiers are noble—by definition, they’re our guys—then the war must be noble, too. Hell, that’s not ever the case these days, if it ever was. The warmongers and paid manipulators know that. They know all the tricks to make people enlist in all sorts of stupid and criminal crusades.

But these campaigns also serve a secondary and no less poisonous purpose: they reinforce the idea of privatism in American life. Yeah, those thousands or millions points of light that Poppy Bush was so enamored of. Yeah, let’s have ordinary Americans send their last dollar to support injured soldiers put in harms’ way by the imperial overlords—who live lives of ghastly luxurious excess. Complete article

After CBS finally reported on this the Greanville Post reported, At last Big Media looks at Wounded Warrior Scam. 01/27/2016 Another report that came out long before the mainstream media paid any attention was the following about how they intimidated smaller local charities that were doing a better job and prevented them from using their limited resources for veterans, since thy had to use them for legal expenses:

‘Wounded Warrior’ Charity Unleashes Hell—On Other Veteran Groups 05/04/2015

What happens when a nonprofit that was started to help veterans becomes the neighborhood bully?

For a charity supposedly devoted to helping veterans, the Wounded Warrior Project spends an enormous amount of time suing or threatening to sue small nonprofits—spending resources on litigation that could otherwise be spent on the vets they profess to serve.

At issue is the Wounded Warrior Project’s brand: The charity has become particularly litigious over the use of the phrase “wounded warrior” or logos that involve silhouetted soldiers. At least seven such charities have discussed their legal problems with The Daily Beast.

The Wounded Warrior Project has become, in the words of those it’s targeted for legal action, a “bully,” more concerned about its image and increasing the size of the organization than actually providing services to wounded warriors. .....

The Wounded Warrior Project’s latest target is the Keystone Wounded Warriors, a small, all-volunteer charity based in Pennsylvania.

How small? Keystone Wounded Warriors had a total annual revenue of just over $200,000 as recently as 2013. That’s less than the $375,000 that Wounded Warrior Project Executive Director Steven Nardizzi was personally paid in 2013.

The Keystone group was forced to spend more than two years and some $72,000 in legal fees to defend itself from the legal actions of the Wounded Warrior Project, which brings in annual revenues of close to $235 million, according to the outfit’s most recent tax forms.

“That’s money that we could have used to pick up some homes in foreclosure, remodel them, and give them back to warriors. We spent that money on defending ourselves instead,” said Keystone Wounded Warriors Executive Director Paul Spurgin, a Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran. Complete article

Despite finally reporting on the Wounded Warrior Project the mainstream media is already forgetting about it, playing there ads again while follow up reports quickly drop off. Alternative media outlets picked up this story long before the mainstream media and they're probably going to be the ones that remembers it long after the mainstream media forgets it. And some of the reporting from the mainstream media indicates that these reports were more reliable even when they were forced to retract some of them.

The bigger problem is that the establishment continues to try as hard as they can get away with to control the message. They're not reporting some of the biggest problems which would also expose many of their other advertisers and cut into their profits. The biggest problem isn't the Wounded Warrior Project which the mainstream media is now willing to throw under the bus now that they can no longer defend it, but the mainstream media itself, which treats news almost like a commodity that can be bought and sold. They can't make the most extreme claims without losing the last shreds of their credibility, and it helps to highlight even more extreme fringe groups but their reporting an and often is influenced by their politics and profits.

Do you ever hear the mainstream media say, "If you cut manufacturing expenses to the bone, ship merchandise halfway around the world to take advantage of slave labor and send advertising expenses through the roof to convince the public their merchandise still has value then the products will gradually get worse until only idiot don't notice.?"

Of course they don't say something like this any more than they would ever say, "The more our advertisers pay us the less they have to provide products and services for you," because they get a cut in increased profits in the form of advertising so they have an incentive to remain quit about problems for consumers  workers and voters.

The scam by the Wounded Warriors Project is bad enough but the incentive plan for commercial media without diversity or accountability is much worse!

The following are some additional background on this story including the CBS reports and starting with an organization, "Guns Save Lives," that I usually don't agree with although they seem to have reported better on this than the mainstream media:

Wounded Warriors Project called legal scam as scandalous news spreads 01/01/2014 This includes citations for numerous additional articles they have done in the past.

Wounded Warrior Project is under fire for its spending — unlike these highly rated alternatives 01/28/2016

Wounded Warrior Project Scam Alert or Scam?

Wounded Warrior Project accused of wasting donation money 01/2/2016 For example, Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust spends 96 percent of its budget on vets. Fisher House devotes 91 percent. But according to public records reported by "Charity Navigator," the Wounded Warrior Project spends 60 percent on vets.

Ex-employee: Wounded Warrior Project conduct "makes me sick" 01/27/2016

Charity watchdogs question Wounded Warrior's spending on vets 01/27/2016

The final report put the figure that Wounded Warrior Project spends on vets at between 54 and 60 percent, saying that Wounded Warrior Project claims it is 80 but includes money spent on advertising as being spent on vets. This doesn't fully disclose all the expenses or explain how they drew these conclusions. To do so might give people the idea that all charities should do the same and this might highlight the large portions of money collected that are actually going to media profits or other bureaucratic expenses and raise doubts about the way we finance necessities for the needy in our economic system. They clearly don't want to do that: but until this happens I'm not ruling out the possibility that Alex Graham's estimate that less than %10 is actually going to veterans is closer to the truth than what the mainstream media reports.

DEBUNKED: Article Purporting Wounded Warrior Project is a ‘Legal Scam’ is False 01/14/2015 But it didn’t make sense to me that a charity with major corporate sponsors such as U-Haul, Bank of America, Raytheon, NFL, Heinz and many others would allow the WWP to use their name and fund their events if they were in fact a scam. Since the article "debunked" seems to have at least been partially confirmed this article should be met with some skepticism and so should the large institutions that seem to support War Propaganda.

‘Wounded Warrior’ Charity Fights—To Get Rich 06/08/2015

Edit 04/20/2017: Since this article was first posted there have been numerous attempts to rehabilitate the image of Wounded Warriors including one pointed out recently to me by the Wounded Warrior Project when they claimed that my article was false and that they're now "accredited by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance," which sounds good and it may be true; however it still doesn't address the fundamental flaws pointed out in this article. It appears that they may have stopped some of the most blatant fraud that was exposed by numerous higher profile articles without acknowledging the problems with spending an enormous amount of money to raise funds under our current economic system, meaning that a certain percentage which is rarely disclosed doesn't go to most charities at all but to bureaucratic expenses. A certain amount of this is unavoidable but when it isn't reviewed it can't even be kept to a minimum.

It may also raise questions about the Better Business Bureau process of approving businesses or charities. The Better Business Bureau is funded by member fees to hold those same members accountable. I wouldn't say that it is totally useless; since it does expose the worst of these business when they get enough complaints; however they get heir funds from the same businesses they hold accountable. If they discredit all the minor scams, or in many cases major ones that many people have become accustomed to accepting as unavoidable they would lose all their members and income.

Clearly the approval of the Better Business Bureau alone isn't enough to guarantee that a business or charity is reliable and it is worth thinking about better ways of reviewing businesses and charities. When the Wounded Warrior Project claimed that my article was "False" or "Utter nonsense" they showed no sign that they even read it or addressed any of the issues pointed out in it. I did not rely primarily on the same fraud that was exposed by other reporters. But don't take my word for it feel free to sort through the details and come to your own conclusions. The following is the article they pointed out and the series of tweets they pointed them out to me along with my replies:

Wounded Warrior Project cleared of ‘spending lavishly,’ report finds 02/08/2017

#WoundedWarriorProject finances War #Propaganda with donations paying for ads not helping vets much if at all! 04/19/2017 8:33 AM

False. We support wounded veterans and their families through our many free programs and services. 04/19/2017 8:43 AM

Do you speak out about governments that pay defense contractors while abandoning veterans or demand they stop fighting wars based on lies? 04/19/2017 8:49 AM

Not that I've seen, but repeated ads glorifies wars making questions about lies seem um-patriotic! defend vets by ending wars based on lies! 04/19/2017 8:50 AM

This would prevent them from getting injured in the first place; and defend local economies independent of wars based on lies! 04/19/2017 8:51 AM

Read the article to see misleading #Propaganda that #WoundedWarriorProject uses to distract from wars based on lies 04/19/2017 8:53 AM

Utter nonsense. We are Charity Navigator 4-Star organization & accredited by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. 04/19/2017 9:04 AM

This article only addresses the most obvious fraud & ignores how charity is financed as my article points out 04/19/2017 9:21 AM

It's just a cookie cutter article that repeats propaganda over and over again ignoring best criticism! 04/19/2017 9:22 AM

Edit 12/28/2017: They seem to have increased their advertising and there is no longer any mention of the past scandals in the traditional media, even though they still haven't adressed many of the most important examples of fraud and propaganda pointed out in this article; however they've gone even further with emotional statements where wounded warriors eagerly claim they would do it all again even though they know they might get wounded like they did. They do this even though they know or should know that the war in Iraq was based on lies, and if they paid attention to the news close enough, especially more reliable alternative media outlets they would know that our government is constantly antagonizing other governments when there is no need for it.

I don't know whether these actors know that they're helping spread propaganda, or if they actually believe it. If they believe it, I sympathize with them and consider it regretful; however this only shows how effective their propaganda is if the people creating it start believing their own lies. This is all the more reason to expose it. And, even though there are, no doubt, a lot of people that sincerely believe at least part of this propaganda, there are still a lot that must be intentionally promoting it for their own gain. When Trace Adkins says that this is "a very noble cause" he sounds sincere, but I find it extremely hard to believe that he believes all his own lies, even though I still think his music is great. That good music is what makes propaganda so appealing and effective.

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