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Workers say charity gave little money to vets

Home - by - December 16, 2012 - 22:00 America/New_York - 6 Comments

Army Times

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A veterans charity already under scrutiny for how it raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in Tennessee handed out only a fraction of the money in the form of gift cards and threatened to fire workers if they didn’t meet fundraising quotas, former employees say.

The Stuart, Fla.-based Veterans Support Organization has been criticized by other groups for how it uses donations raised outside retail stores and supermarkets. It had been fined by Tennessee for making false claims about the benefits it offered, and Connecticut lawmakers called for a federal investigation before the group’s Tennessee branch closed last month.

However, former employees interviewed by The Associated Press shed new details on how the charity operated. For instance, it claimed to help veterans and non-veterans by providing them jobs, but disciplined people who didn’t meet fundraising quotas. It also claimed to provide housing and help for poor or homeless veterans, though the former workers say that amounted to little more than a rented home in Tennessee where the workers were charged $400 a month for bunk beds and plastic dressers.

It’s not the first such charity to be scrutinized as thousands of veterans leave the military after serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Ohio, for instance, a man has been charged with running a $100 million scam through a bogus charity collecting donations for Navy veterans. Other charities around the country have been scrutinized for spending large portions of the donations they receive on operating expenses.

VSO reported raising nearly $8.5 million nationwide during the last fiscal year, but leaders emptied its office in Madison and laid off about 20 workers the day before Thanksgiving. Charity officials declined to answer questions about the workers’ claims, but provided a short statement.

The Tennessee chapter was raising tens of thousands of dollars a month at its peak, former chapter manager Kurt Jones told the AP, who was among those laid off. However, he said, its only donations were about $400 worth of Walmart gift cards given every other month to Veterans Affairs facilities in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Jones estimated the chapter raised almost $1.5 million in his two years as manager, but very little benefited veterans in those states.

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» 6 Comments

  1. Unneutral

    December 16th, 2012

    Cheap Fu@ks, must have been run by liberals.

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  2. Unruly Refugee

    December 16th, 2012

    My brother used to donate to “?Christian? Children’s Fund” until I pointed out the fact that the organization had nothing to do with Christian ministry. I wasn’t the only one who noticed– I think now they call themselves the Child Fund or something like that. I won’t give a penny to deceivers.

    Like my brother’s parole officer used to say: check them out before you donate, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

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  3. grayscape

    December 17th, 2012

    Guaranfuckingteed greedy racist Democraps are involved….

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  4. Joe

    December 17th, 2012

    Lots of people call during the holidays, wanting donations, but I can’t afford to give. I don’t trust a lot of these groups. I do, however, give my tithe to my church.

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  5. RANDO

    December 17th, 2012

    Semper Fi Fund. Thatis all.

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  6. Rick

    December 17th, 2012

    Joe, go ahead and tithe to your church. You can watch ‘em and your screams of indignation will be heard by someone who cares. And there’s a distinct probability that some good will be done with it.

    This atheist veteran would much rather you do that than contribute to an organization like VSO.

    And Merry Christmas, y’all!

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