Saturday, May 4, 2013

Its not who you think

When i decided to create Artisan Light, I wanted it to support an organization that gives back to society. 

Being a veteran myself and married to a veteran, both diagnosed with PTSD, I wanted to find an organization that supported soldiers, veterans and their families that suffer from these service related/inflicted wounds and disabilites.

I turned to the Wounded Warrior Project and researched what they did as an organization for the disabled soldiers, veterans and families.  All I could see were many good things.  They sponsor several fundraisers and events to support returning soldiers and their families, programs to re-adjust to the homefront, help to underserved veterans, financial services, rehabilitation for soldiers with prosthetics, mental health support....the list goes on.  I believed I had a winner.

Artisan Light created a candlelight expression exclusively designed to solely support our courageous men and women sacrificing their lives for our freedom.

Each candlelight expression is personalized and custom made to honor or remember the hero, the sacrifice, the legacy.
85% of the proceeds would directly support the WWP..............
.....or so I thought.

I dug deeper and the image I once had of an organization that did so much, was not as transparent as I feel an organization of their size and stature should be.

A little bird named Charity has been the navigator and a very reliable tool in my research to lead me in the right direction.

It turns out the Wounded Warrior Project did not win my vote and I found it quite a suprise. 

Now it must not be mistaken, the WWP does great things for disabled soldiers, veterans and their families. My husband received support from the organization and can only commend them for what they do. My sons and nephew proudly wear the Wounded Warrior supporter dog tags they have received.

The WWP is known worldwide and has many success stories and testimonies.

So why wouldn't I chose such an organization for my business to support? 
               A 30 Second Super Bowl Ad Costs $3.8 Million
The CEO of Wounded Warrior Project, Steve Nardizzi
(no prior service) receives $319,000.00+/yr
(more than the President of the United States)
I don't believe our defenders of freedom should ever have to settle for 2nd after all they sacrifice for us. 

My husband served our country well as a distinguished sniper, infantryman and as an intructor (Black Hat/Jumpmaster) at the airborne school, Ft. Benning, Georgia, U.S. Army. 

Our marriage has seen for worse and I have lost many comrades through the years due to 9-11 and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The families....the survivors of their beloved, are left to endure the pain and loss, and carry on with many unanswered questions, and many times uncertain futures.  More than not, children suffer just as much, if not more, due to the inability to understand what it is all for and it is getting harder to explain it to them.
(please remember...the children are the most influential bystanders)
So I dig for answers and find more.....
....I was disturbed with what I found out about the Wound Warrior Project.

                                                          another suprise in our discovery
The WWP response to an invitation to speak on Veterans Day
@ Gun Talk radio.
We were disappointed when the Leslie Coleman, PR director for WWP, said they couldn’t come on the show, but that happens. Schedules don’t mesh, things happen, but that’s not uncommon. No big deal. Except that Ms. Coleman said they were declining because we “are related to firearms.”
“While we appreciate the interest in having a WWP representative on your show on Veterans Day we are not able to participate in interviews or activities with media/organizations that are related to firearms,” said Ms. Coleman in her email.
That really rocked us because we knew of all the firearms-related activities used to raise money for WWP. I asked for clarification, and Coleman reconfirmed their position. That Sunday I talked about it on the air and sent out a tweet (@guntalk) with the information. Some doubted that I had reported it correctly, so we posted the entire email exchange on our Facebook page listed above. 
That lit the fuse, and hundreds (if not thousands) of gun rights supporters contacted WWP for clarification. The response was . . . a bit bland. Mostly it was along the lines of “We support the Second Amendment . . .,” but the WWP web site specifically called out the firearms industry as one it would not “co-brand” with. That is, it would not allow the use of its logo on guns (and it turns out, on knives, either.) other companies WWP will not accept donations from are anything affiliated with tobacco, alcohol, faith-based organizations and anything related to pornography/sex industry.
Interesting the stigma and categorization there is regarding who they would support as a business.
Coleman’s explanation that guns are used in suicides, and suicide is a big issue for returning vets, set off a firestorm of response. WWP quietly started making changes to its web site, removing mention of firearms, or changing it to “weapons.” Online firearms boards documented the changes, posting the before and after. The pressure mounted on WWP.

By midweek, with the help of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, WWP offered to put its CEO, Steve Nardizzi, on Gun Talk Radio to explain what they now called a big misunderstanding that had been blown out of proportion. I welcomed the chance to clear up this mess, which no one wanted. I hoped that Nardizzi would announce a change in the policy.  He didn’t. Once on the air, he said they support the Second Amendment (which really did remind me of when President Obama starts a sentence that way), and that they participate in hunts and shoots as fund raisers.

Yes, we knew that. But what of the policy blocking the use of the WWP logo on guns? In fact, the policy prohibits the use of the logo at fundraisers where there is shooting, though that seems to be flexible.

No, he said, they would not “co-brand” with firearms or knives. The return on investment (ROI) just wasn’t there, he explained. I asked why they would turn down the money from such a program when it didn’t interfere with their larger projects (ketchup, clothing, etc.), and he explained that co-branding requires much internal coordination with lawyers, PR people, and others to manage it, and that I wouldn’t understand it. Hmmm....

What if we offered to cover all their internal expenses, and then co-brand (use their logo on guns and knives) as a way to contribute to WWP, I asked. Would that be okay? I never got a straight answer to that.
There was much back and forth, with it quickly taking on the feeling of dealing with a politician who has to be there, but who doesn’t really want to answer the questions. To get the full flavor of the interview, you can download it or listen online.
Nardizzi even went on the offensive, saying he can’t believe we would withhold donations from wounded vets because we don’t get anything out of it (use of the logo). This feigned indignation didn’t fly. I explained that we have many avenues for donating to our veterans WWP is only one of many and that just because someone decides not to support a group which he thinks has taken an anti-gun stand doesn’t mean that person isn’t going to continue to contribute — just to other groups.
and just another added note: the free gifts the WWP sends to their donors are made in China....still a communist country the last I recall.  Discern please! Our troops fighting to preserve our freedom while an organization founded to support them receives millions in donations from the American people...just so we can support the economy of a communist country.
p.s. WalMart boycotters...I salute you!!!

If you want ammo...depending where you live, you will have to call and request it these days or they will tell you they are out of stock.

So in a nut shell, the WWP will not accept your money if you are affiliated or associated with an entity that is related to alcohol, tobacco, firearms, faith-based organizations and the sex/pornography industry.
Its not hard to agree with a few of those points but...hard to see their point of view on many others. 
After much research and networking...

I found it right here in Licking County, Americas Freedom Lodge.
They support disabled soldiers, veterans and families by providing acreage for recreation, fishing, and hunting.  Founded by Mark Armstrong and his overwhelming respect for the men and women who have served in the U.S. military; the defenders of our freedom, here at home and around the world. 


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