Veterans Group Plans Should VA Checks Stop

Photo courtesy of the Wounded Warrior Project.

Photo courtesy of the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Florida-based Wounded Warriors Project (WWP) plans to open its coffers should the congressional stalemate continue and VA payments cannot  be made to veterans with disabilities and families of fallen service members.

The non-profit organization – which has assisted some 40,000 injured veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan war – has committed $20 million to help its alumni according to the WWP website.

WWP is prepared to send you a $500 check if the government does not come to a resolution in time for the November payment. These funds are to assist with expenses during this payment gap, and WWP will not ask for reimbursement. While this action would not solve all financial hardship, we are committed to helping our warriors, especially in time of crisis.

Many news reports are quoting veterans who are anxious and angry about the looming threat that there will be no money for VA compensation checks and benefit payments.

But their faith was shaken when initially death benefits were denied last week to families of  five service members killed in Afghanistan and to others who died while on active duty.

The non-profit organization, the Fisher House, stepped up to help pay the death benefit so families could deal with the sudden loss and plan funerals. Later in the week, Congress did pass a resolution funding death benefits.

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Veterans Charities Examined by Tampa Bay Times

iraq veterans capThe Tampa Bay Times in conjunction with the Center for Investigative Reporting examined the track record of one of the fastest growing non-profits that helps veterans as part of an ongoing series that looks at the fundraising and spending of charities.

The Wounded Warrior Project, founded in 2003, the Times reports is spending 58 percent of its donations on veterans programs.

In its 2012 IRS filing, Wounded Warrior reported that about 73 percent of its expenses went toward programs. But the charity is one of many that use a commonly accepted practice to claim a portion of fundraising expenses as charitable works. By including educational material in solicitations, charities can classify some of the expense as good deeds.

Ignoring these joint costs reduces the amount Wounded Warrior spent on programs last year to 58 percent of total expenditures.

The charity has been criticized for its salaries, with 10 employees earning $150,000 or more. Chief executive Steve Nardizzi, whose total compensation was about $330,000 last year, said salaries are in line with similarly sized organizations.

“We’re a direct service provider, dealing with some of the world’s greatest social ills,” Nardizzi said, referring to the charity’s more than 250 employees who provide services to veterans. “We hire the best of the best and we pay them a living wage.”

The full article is available HERE.

Wounded Warriors: The Greatest Casualty Is Being Forgotten

How many emails do you write a day? The Wounded Warrior Project is asking that you write one more to be included on a special Wounded Warrior Project™ (WWP) message board that is shared with America’s wounded heroes.

The deadline is Dec. 18 to be a part of the holiday message board.

Need incentive? Here’s a message from the WWP Executive Director Steven Nardizzi:

This season can often be difficult for service members — being far away from loved ones, lying in a hospital bed suffering from permanent battlefield wounds, and reflecting on the loss of brothers in arms weighs heavy on a warrior during the holidays.

As we go about our holiday celebrations, the heroic U.S. servicemen and women who paid such a high price to protect our freedom are facing uncertain futures and long roads to recovery. Truly, there’s no better time to show your appreciation than right now.

You can send your greeting to a Wounded Warrior HERE.

’Tis the season for caring!

Wounded Veterans Benefit from Birdies for the Brave

The "Combat Hole" at the 2010 event. Photo courtesy of Birdies for the Brave Tampa Bay website.

Here’s a chance to have a “swinging good time” and also contribute to Birdies for the Brave Tampa Bay, which is part of a nationwide program that gives citizen support to wounded military members and their families.

There is a chance to mingle with members of the PGA and members of the military at the Kick-Off Party Saturday (Nov. 19) from 4 to 10 p.m. The party is open to the public at TPC – Tampa Bay, 5300 West Lutz Lake Fern Road, Lutz, Florida. It is being held overlooking the 18th fairway, includes dinner, open bar, live music, dancing and a silent auction. Tickets for the party are $40 at the door.

Reservations are required for the Golf Extravaganza scheduled Sunday (Nov. 20) also held at TPC – Tampa Bay. It will be followed by an awards ceremony.

Six non-profit organizations from the “homefront” will share the proceeds from the Tampa Bay Birdies for the Brave event:

  • Homes for our Troops
  • Operation Homefront
  • Navy SEAL Foundation
  • Special Operations Warrior Foundation
  • United Through Reading
  • Wounded Warrior Project

Birdies for the Brave is the PGA TOUR’s primary way to support men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. The money raised goes to military homefront groups that directly serve military men and women lost or seriously injured.

Clock Ticking for Veterans’ Caregivers Looking for Help

Many families have committed their own resources, quit jobs and moved across country to help care for their veterans injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. So, last year, Congress passed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act to provide eligible families of the most severely wounded with benefits like respite care, counseling and a monthly stipend.

The Wounded Warriors Project campaigned for the Caregivers Act and has now made a “call to action” to get it implemented more quickly because families like the Bob and Michelle Briggs are waiting. 

Cong. Kathy Castor of Tampa distributes Girl Scout cookies to a wounded warrior during her recent visit to Landstudl Medical Center in Germany.

The Department of Veterans Affairs was supposed to have implanted the “Caregivers Act” by the end of January. But the VA is dragging its feet says Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor.

“There really is no excuse in my book for the Department of Veterans Affairs not to have followed through with support for wounded warrior families,” Castor said.

She added that of all the constituent services provided by her office, helping with veterans benefits is the hardest.

“Gen. (Eric) Shinseki is a dedicated department head,” Castor said. “But, boy it really wears on our veterans and they’re the last people who should be bogged down with paperwork.”

The original veterans caregiver act was signed by Pres. Barack Obama on May 5, 2010.

The VA called it a “complex process,” in a press release dated February 9, 2011, and stated that many of the “significant newly-enacted benefits will require the issuance of regulations” and that will require time and a period for public comment.

The Wounded Warrior Project website has a “countdown for caregivers clock” that shows it’s been more than 37 days since family caregivers of severely wounded war veterans were supposed to get some relief.

You can listen to the WUSF 89.7 story here.

Civilian Cyclists Can Join in a Soldier Ride

Soldier Rides were started in 2004 as a way to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project.

Soldier Rides started solely for wounded warriors to help restore them physically and emotionally and civilians were invited to only to cheer them on. But now, the Wounded Warrior Project sponsored cycle rides are welcoming the public to ride along.

So far, cycle teams representing Republic Riders, MSGI Corporation, EKS Group, Bank of America and Macy’s are signed up for the Tampa ride.

At first the public were only spectators, now civilians are invited to ride along with the wounded warriors.

That Soldier Ride is set this Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011, in Tampa. It will start and finish at Macy’s WestShore Mall, 259 WestShore Plaza. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m., the ride starts at 8 a.m. followed by a community picnic. For registration and details, click here.

The ride provides a unique adaptive cycling experience that honors military men and women living with physical and invisible wounds.  The Wounded Warrior Project provides equipment and support to participating injured service members at no cost to the warrior.

Soldier Ride raises funds for Wounded Warrior Project programs and initiatives to ensure this generation is the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded warriors in our nation’s history.

The War at Home – A Spouse’s Poem

Photo from the Military with PTSD Facebook page.

Below is a poem from the Facebook group – Military with PTSD – a forum for veterans and spouses supporting each other. The site does not offer advice from health care professionals. But, the sentiments expressed are important for all to understand.

For health care professionals, readers should turn to the VA Center for PTSD or organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project resiliency resources and Give an Hour, a non-profit which provides free mental health for military and their families effected by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

My thanks to Cheyenne Forsythe for sharing this item and site. Unfortunately, the author was not noted.

 

Courtesy of the Military with PTSD Facebook group.

The War At Home

 

My children and I did not volunteer to go to war.

How could you not warn me the war was coming straight into our home?

I had no warning or instruction as to what to watch out for.

The soldier returned home and not my husband.

I got a little pamphlet explaining that most soldiers may have to readjust to being home.

I believed you and trusted you when you said that the readjustment period may take a few months but they should experience a successful transition back into the home.

Months turned into years and every time I would call for help I was brushed away.

I called for help because my home had turned into a battlefield.

Guns were being drawn and my children and I became the enemy.

We lived our life walking on eggshells out of fear.

For almost 5 years we lived in hell.

I had to use every ounce of strength I had to keep this family together.

My husband proudly served this country, and would gladly do it again if asked.

But when his family needed help, you allowed them to suffer for years.

We did not want money.  We wanted to have a normal life.

We would have had a chance if you would have been truthful.

If you would have told these soldiers families what to watch out for.

You should have told us about PTSD!

If you or a veteran you know is in need of immediate help: the Department of Veteran Affairs‘ 24 hour national suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

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