The Salem News published my letter. I’ve reprinted it below:
The new parking spot for those wounded in combat
On a recent trip to Panera in Vinnin Square, I noticed the addition of a new special parking space next to the two handicapped spots. It was a spot designated for veterans who had been wounded in combat.
While I applaud the notion, I was left questioning the motives. Please don’t get me wrong — honoring the sacrifice of veterans is absolutely necessary in our society. When it comes to voting for political leaders, I always lean toward the vet who put their lives on the line for our country.
But to me this new spot looks like a solution in search of a problem. A lack of parking for those with limited mobility (caused by combat or otherwise) was never an issue. I’ve never seen both the regular handicapped spots filled in this parking lot and injured vets were always free to park there.
Rather than solving a problem, I believe this new parking spot is just an advertisement for Wounded Warrior, the scandal-plagued charity whose name is prominent on the sign. As one anonymous vet said in the Daily Beast article about the organization, “They’re more worried about putting their label on everything than getting down to brass tacks. It’s really frustrating.”
This analysis was confirmed earlier this year in a New York Times article titled “Wounded Warrior Project Spends Lavishly on Itself,” which found only 60 percent of donations went to veterans; 40 percent went to “overhead.” The organization’s top two executives, Steven Nardizzi and Al Giordano, were fired shortly afterward.
Unfortunately, despite these firings, we appear to be getting more of the same from the company — publicity stunts masquerading as charitable acts. It’s clear funds donated to Wounded Warrior continue to go to advertising for more money, not to meeting the real needs of vets.
I urge those who want to donate to veteran causes to instead look to organizations like Fisher House, which received four stars from Charity Navigator and an A+ rating from Charity Watch. In contrast to Wounded Warrior, Fisher House spends close to 95 percent of its budget on programs that help vets. They spend their time providing real services, not creating phony baloney parking space ad slots.