Saturday, February 27, 2016

Glenn Tilley Questions Phony Veterans Charity; So Does Record

St. Augustine Record Letter: Real concern for veterans is free
Posted: February 27, 2016 - 10:07pm

Editor: There is an ongoing concern about the CEO of Wounded Warriors receiving $1,000 per day salary. I write this as a comparison to the groups that genuinely care about our veterans.

I am the commander and CEO of the largest Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Florida, with over 1,400 members and 400 Auxiliary members. My pay and the pay of all of my staff is zero. This is the same for all VFW Posts.

I am also a Life Member of the American Legion Post 194 and the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 6. The pay for the staff of these organizations is the same — zero. We do what we do as volunteers because we love our veterans, their families, the active duty troops, our communities and our nation — and we do it proudly.

When time comes that you consider donating to a worthy organization dedicated to the betterment of our veterans care, I recommend you consider one of these groups. When you see them distributing poppies or forget-me-nots throughout the community, please remember that 100 percent of the donations received go to the care of the veterans and their families.

Glen Tilley
St. Augustine Beach
(904) 460-9345

Editorial: Local veterans take care of their own
Posted: February 27, 2016 - 10:06pm | Updated: February 28, 2016 - 7:59am

Letter: Real concern for veterans is free
If you look on the facing page, the lead letter is written by local vet and VFW Post 2391 (Yes, the one with the tank) Commander Glen Tilley. In it, he makes a very good point.

This editorial is not to diminish the work of the Wounded Warrior group. Certainly they do make a huge difference in the lives of some of the most grievously injured of our combat soldiers. But it is a different kind of organization than our local Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion or Disabled American Veteran groups. It makes a lot of money, spends a lot of money in the process and directs its efforts at a deserved, but small slice of our veteran population — those injured in action. It gives aid only to post-9/11 military veterans.

By most accounts it directs 58 percent of its contributions to direct services and receives a “C” grade from most charity rating organizations. Its CEO makes $375,000 and it has 10 staff members making $150,000 or above. The latest tax document we found for the organization was 2012, when the contributions topped $225 million.

For better or worse, that’s a world apart from our local veteran service organizations. Together they serve all 22,000-plus veterans in the county — whether the action was in Korea or Syria. And a Purple Heart isn’t a prerequisite for their care.

Most of what the local groups do is behind the scenes. It’s the little things day in and day out that make a difference locally — actions we do not see. It may be supporting a Junior ROTC group, visiting a nursing home, honoring a local Eagle Scout, transporting vets to hospital appointments in Gainesville or visiting vets in VA facilities in order to “bring a spark or a smile” to an aging veteran’s day, Tilley said.

The one common denominator is that all three groups work 100 percent for free. The VFW bylaws, for instance, don’t even allow overhead to be paid for by contributions.

It is a true commitment on the parts of these local veteran organizations. It’s vets looking after vets. It’s taking care of your own, especially when they fall through the ever-widening cracks in federal commitment to these men and women. It is a helping hand. It is always here.

And in a very real sense, these veterans groups represent something very good in our country turning very bad. We phoned Tilley to talk about the VFW services, but at the end of the conversation his thoughts wandered a bit. He began talking about its most recognizable fundraising effort, the tiny Buddy Poppies, given out for free, or traded for a small contribution, and usually in front of a grocery store. The poppy symbolizes the flower made famous in the poem “Flanders Field” — a battlefield in Belgium where thousands of soldiers from many countries were killed and buried — and where the poppy plant took root on the acres of freshly dug graves.

The poppy fundraiser began in 1922. Disabled veterans were hired to make the small flowers to augment their incomes. It has grown since then.

Tilley said that not that long ago every American knew what the Buddy Poppy stood for. “Now I sit out there for three days, and I don’t think half the people know why we’re there.” He seemed mystified by that.

The veterans helping veterans in these local organizations seem do their work happily but, in a larger sense gratefully, if you can imagine.

If you’re looking for a place where a charitable contribution goes a very long way for a cause to which we all owe our way of life, consider our local veterans groups. They won’t ask you themselves.

Opinion Editor’s note: Inevitably when naming veteran-related organizations, you’ll leave one out. But other groups working in the area include AmVets, Fleet Reserve the Marine Corps League ... and others. Thank you all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Listen, war is a racket. It is profitable only for a few. If Hillary Clinton is elected, expect the endless US wars for Greater Israel to continue. If She decides to invade Iran, which She will be expected to do, by her Wall Street overlords; I would also anticipate 1 or 2 million Americans to voluntarily enlist. The War Machine needs to keep on rollin', rollin', rollin'....