Representative Waxman's Oversight Committee held it's first hearing into veterans charities today, in the wake of a study that gave failing grades to 12 of the nations 29 charities that ostensibly exist to benefit the nations veterans, but seem to mostly benefit the bottom line of the people who head up the charities. Of the 29 charities, 20 were found to manage their resources poorly, and only five received an "A+" grade.
Two of the worst offenders were the Military order of the Purple Heart and Help Hospitalized Veterans. Those two organizations use only about 1/3 of the funds they take in to actually benefit veterans in need.
Help Hospitalized Veterans was one of the most egregious offenders, which took in $71.3 million last year, spent $4 million on direct mail fundraising efforts, and paid the founder and his wife handsomely - over a half million dollars - for administering the charity and editing the newsletter.
"People want to help the veterans," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the oversight committee. "They don't want to enrich organizations that are cynically exploiting veterans for their own personal gain. "We need to make sure that the generous contributions of Americans to veterans will help veterans and not line the pockets of fundraisers and these organizations."Read the whole thing, but I want to take a moment to plug Fisher House. Fisher House is one of the charities that got an A+ and it is one that I have backed for years. If you are feeling patriotic this holiday season and want to donate to a responsible and responsive veterans charity, you should direct that beneficence to Fisher House. Donations to that organization actually benefit veterans and their families; they don't go towards purchasing ivory back scratchers for scammers who wrap themselves in the flag.