Clarissa is a published author. She has a BA in Psychology from Ottawa Univ., MA from Webster Univ. and an EdS from Walden Univ.
The Era of the Profitable Not-for-Profit
As a military alumnus, I’m honored to have served my country. I have received special accolades, free coffee, meals, and discounts. Over the past five years, I have noticed not-for-profit organizations cropping up. They claim to serve veterans, some for post 9/11 veterans, women veterans, amputee veterans, and veterans diagnosed with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome). With all these not-for-profit organizations benefiting from veterans’ circumstances, why are there so many veterans who are homeless, un- or underemployed, on the brink of suicide, and/or alienated from family and friends?
. . . the organization received $8.5 million in donations, yet distributed approximately $122,000, less than 2%, in cash donations to veterans and their families.
According to Charity Watch, as of 2015, there are more than 40,000 not-for-profit organizations claiming to serve the veteran community and their families. However, my faith in many veteran not-for-profit organizations began to fade when I read a 2016 article about a now defunct not-for-profit organization run by a Department of Veterans Affairs attorney, who is also a veteran, and two veterans employed with the organization. According to a CNN news investigation, the organization received $8.5 million in donations, yet distributed approximately $122,000, less than 2%, in cash donations to veterans and their families. These individuals drove expensive cars (including a Rolls Royce), took expensive vacations, and paid themselves six-figure salaries. It’s appalling and heart wrenching to know one of our own has taken advantage of our veteran status by stealing millions of dollars that could have help us.
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In February 2016, I lost a dear Army veteran friend to suicide. He has reached out to several not-for-profit organizations seeking assistance with his PTSD, homelessness, and for food. He shared his struggle with obtaining assistance from the not-for-profits as many had unreasonably long qualification protocols. He stated when he requested assistance to buy fuel for his car to get to and from his new job, he applied to several not-for-profits specific for veterans but none would assist him. He had to borrow money from me and several other veteran friends. These tax-free organizations supposedly dedicated to the service of veterans failed my friend. I’m not saying these organizations are responsible for my friend’s death. However, I believe he may have had a chance if they had put those donations to use in helping him cope.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m the recipient of services rendered by several charities devoted to military veterans. I have met many volunteers who are passionate about helping us veterans return to a semblance of normalcy. Their tireless dedication to us doesn’t go unnoticed or acknowledged. My contention is there are far too many not-for-profits claiming to help veterans when, in fact, many of my veteran brothers and sisters continue to struggle.
My fellow veterans and I continue to live in a world of service to our country. We don’t know any other way. We want nothing more than to believe that our service and sacrifices weren’t in vain and that those not-for-profits who are supposed to serve us aren’t just profiting off our veteran status. We are NOT cash cows! If a not-for-profit’s charter states they are there to serve us and collect donations to do so, then they should be legally compelled to do so. Don’t make profits off our veteran status! Serve us as promised! It should not be enough to claim service to veterans. It should be shown these organizations are actually putting their dollars where the veterans really are.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.