This morning California’s attorney general announced that a major charity established to benefit veterans has been sued on allegations that the charity misused millions of dollars in private donations on heft pensions and other perks.
Help Hospitalized Veterans of Winchester (HHV) ranks among in the nation’s top 1 percent of charities based on the amount raised – more than $436 million since 2001.
California government officials are trying to get the current HHV president removed along with several board members as well as get 4.3 million that prosecutors say was squandered.
HHV isn’t alone though when it comes to “charities” that purport to help veterans and end up benefitting directors and other staff.
Rivers of Recovery (RoR), a Jackson Wyoming based charity, is pushing the limits of acceptable behavior by a non-profit as well.
According to their website, RoR “…is dedicated to providing rehabilitation to physically and psychologically injured combat veterans through innovative, outdoor-based therapies and pioneering research. “
Recent fundraisers held by RoR in Washington D.C. have raised “…hundreds of thousands of dollars …” according recent RoR fundraising emails. Corporate sponsors are wined and dined and encouraged to give to help veterans recover.
While the RoR staff claims that they are only paid $100 a week, they point to an alleged cost of $2000.00 per veteran who participates in the program. RoR’s website states, “…Through philanthropic contributions, Rivers of Recovery trips are free to the participant, with $2,000 covering airfare, lodging, guiding/instruction, meals and research study.”
A closer look at the program’s claims as made on their website reveal a disturbing truth.
RoR uses four two-man tents that were donated at the program’s inception, so housing costs are not a factor. A total of six meals are prepared by RoR staff for the participating veterans. With an estimated cost of $10 per meal that’s another $60 per veteran that is spent.
How about river guides, boats and gear? RoR spends an average of $130.00 per veteran on each two day stretch the veteran is on the river fishing. Equipment, boats and licensing is included in the fee.
So now we’re up to $190.00 per veteran per fishing trip. Leaves $1810.00 unspent out of the alleged “cost” to RoR to provide a charitable service.
What about the “research study”? Two years ago (2010) RoR participants were given a four page questionnaire that was compiled by the University of Illinois-Bloomington. The questionnaire was filled out in ten minutes and handed back to one of the RoR staff members. So much for “research study”.
There are also unquantifiable costs such as gasoline to transport veterans from their home of record to the fishing camp, a six-inch sub for lunch on each of the two fishing days and what do you have? Another $100 spent?
Even using a liberally estimated cost to RoR of $1000.00 per veteran served, a net profit per veteran of $1000.00 is still realized. Six veterans times four trips a month equal $24,000.00 in profit per month.
Calls to RoR staff for comment about this story went unanswered.