We got one of those calls from the blue today from a woman from Arkansas named Laura – a fan our our website and our message – bringing us her concerns about the two veterans on a high-profile walk across America to raise money for wounded veterans.
The men, Marines, were featured on FoxNews last week.
Two Marines, six weeks, 2,700 miles. Their mission? To walk from Camp Pendleton in California all the way to the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C. All of it is what Marine veterans Adam Shatarsky and Chris Senopol are calling The Wounded Walk 2013, an effort to raise awareness for The Wounded Warrior Project.
Sounds laudable, right?
Well, there seem to be more and more folks who believe the two men doing this are motivated by less than honorable intentions.
Some of the questions being asked, according to Laura, include:
1. Where’s the money going? Significant cash donations being presented to the men are allegedly going unreported on their donation lists.
2. Are they really walking? Sources (stay with us) say they are “riding” across America which doesn’t exactly show a great deal of personal sacrifice, now does it?
Liberal blogger Matt Osborne, who left the Huffington Post in a huff some time back, is blogging about these guys at Osborne Ink, trying to sound the alarm to potential donors to do due diligence before donating to these men.
We at Guns Save Life have no use for the Wounded Warrior Project, a corporation that spends a great majority of its income on operating and fundraising expenses and pays its director nearly a third of a million dollars a year. Our big beef with Wounded Warrior Project is that they want gun owner donations, but they don’t want to be associated with guns.
We reported on the WWP earlier in the year:
Steven Nardizzi, the $319k/year Executive Director of Wounded Warrior Project, fumbled badly out of the gate in his efforts to diffuse the brouhaha over his group’s refusal to participate on Gun Talk Radio last weekend on Veteran’s Day.
The whole disaster was spurred when their communications director declined the invitation to promote WWP on Gun Talk Radio because of the gun-related content of the nationally syndicated radio show.
Late last week, WWP announced their executive director would appear on Gresham’s show to clarify the WWP position, in addition to offering some weaselese language that they respected everyone’s right to their rights to gun ownership – sorta like President Obama begins his self-description. “I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but…”
Nardizzi, for being so well-paid, utterly fumbled.
He tried to spin his way out of the mess but only managed to spin himself in deeper, offering all sorts of weak excuses why WWP couldn’t partner with gun-related sponsors. He cited sponsorships with cyclists and how WWP had cut back on those sponsorships because of some sort of inferior return on investment.
Gresham pressed Nardizzi, saying that WWP had even changed language on their website from firearms to the more incendiary word “weapon”.
Nardizzi offered every excuse imaginable, but in the end Gresham pinned him down as saying that while gun owners are absolutely welcome to send money to WWP, they could not use the logo.
Chris Senopole and Adam Shatarsky are former Marines walking across America to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. This worthy endeavor drew enough attention that a crowd greeted them outside of Clarksville, Arkansas with a brass band on August 8th and accompanied them from the city limits to the courthouse for a ceremony that touched everyone present. But the next day, Senopole and Shatarsky were seen accepting a ride to Morrilton, 52 miles away, where sources say they accepted another ride to Little Rock. That’s 105 miles by car, not on foot. Worse, they had walked into Clarksville after being driven most of the way from Ozark to Coal Hill. In fact, it is not clear whether Senopole and Shatarsky walked enough of Arkansas to count the state as part of their walk.
Senopole and Shatarsky claim to have been marching since their start on the West Coast at a pace of 26 miles a day — not an impossible feat for two former Marines, but not an easy one either. Some of my contacts say they do not appear physically fit enough for that kind of sustained pace. Have they in fact walked the entire distance only to find the humidity too high in Arkansas, or have they actually been cheating all along?
The question would be less unsettling if not for the fact that both men have been observed accepting wads of cash from people — amounting to at least $1,500 in Arkansas alone — but none of those cash donations appear on their GoFundMe page. They have been staying in comped rooms and been treated to both restaurant and home-cooked meals along their route. Are Senopole and Shatarsky overwhelmed by success, or are they playing fast and loose with easy money? Are they in fact walking at a three-mile an hour ruck march pace for nine to twelve hours a day under a baking desert sun to fulfill their pledge of support, or are they thumbing rides and enjoying themselves with the girls they meet?
These questions do not come from me, but from a diverse community of activists in Arkansas who are concerned that a fraud may be in progress. They saw what this blog has done for communities and turned to me. The people that Senopole and Shatarsky skipped in Conway, Arkansas had planned their own welcomes, and feel let down now, and none more so than the law enforcement officers who were supposed to support their journey. A collapse of confidence among law enforcement would be mission-ending, especially given the thousands of dollars Shatarsky and Senopole have collected while in the Natural State.
If you or your organization should be approached to support these two men and their “mission”, be sure to do some research, not only about their “Wounded Walk” organization, but also Wounded Warrior Project.
Even if this Wounded Walk duo is on the up and up with intentions as pure as the wind-driven snow, we certainly aren’t keen about the anti-gun Wounded Warrior Project.
As for looking into the Wounded Warriors, we’ll save you a little legwork. From our post earlier this year:
In the meantime, we did some research and found Wounded Warrior pays its Executive Director quite handsomely.
$319,692 0.55% Steven Nardizzi Executive Director
Further research showed that for the fiscal year ending September 2011, Wounded Warrior Project collected $74 million dollars and had total functional expenses exceeding $57 million.
REVENUE Total Contributions $70,145,724 Program Service Revenue $0 Total Primary Revenue $70,145,724 Other Revenue $3,912,624 TOTAL REVENUE $74,058,348 EXPENSES Program Expenses $31,782,076 Administrative Expenses $4,669,208 Fundraising Expenses $21,306,030 TOTAL FUNCTIONAL EXPENSES $57,757,314 Payments to Affiliates $0 Excess (or Deficit) for the year $16,301,034 Net Assets $30,357,444
We feel that the philosophy of the Wounded Warrior Project, as articulated by its director of public relations, to be one of denigrating guns and gun ownership.
Alternatives to Wounded Warrior Project
As such, we researched other charities that support wounded veterans as well as respecting our firearm rights, and with the potential to do so much more efficiently than Wounded Warriors.Semper Fi Fund is a 4-star charity, according to Charity Navigator.
The Semper Fi Fund (A very highly-rated charity that helps wounded vets of all branches)