Cross posted at Veterans Today
The telephone rings just before dinner and you reluctantly interrupt what you’re doing to answer.
“This is so and so and I’d like to ask you for a moment of your time for our veterans,” says the voice on the phone. If you are at all like me, and I expect that you may be, you dislike telemarketers and usually brush them off with more speed then politeness, especially around dinner time.
He tells you that the “Veterans Association” that he represents is a long established charity with tens of thousands of dues paying members and headquarters in more than twenty states. He offers a short list of good works and projects that they have supported in your area and you think that a couple of them sound familiar.
The pitchman is practiced and convincing and when he gives you the address to send your pledge to, you write a check for a ten spot or twenty, maybe fifty bucks, put it in an envelope and put it on the hall table to mail on your way to work in the morning.
Like me you probably derive a small satisfaction from giving, coupled with a bit of guilt that you can’t offer more but, hey, money’s tight everywhere.
This is, fundamentally, how a “charitable organization” known as the US Navy Veterans Association (USNVA) has collected more than twenty two million dollars in the name of veterans over the last several years.
During the past month I’ve excerpted several stories from an investigative series by a team led by St Petersburg Times writers Jeff Testerman and John Martin. If you haven’t done so I recommend that you read the entire series here. It is an eyeopening trip through a shadowy world of “charitable” fund raising and political donations.