First off, credit to David Codrea of Examiner.com, who broke this story.
Okay, what we have here is a major PR SNAFU by the Wounded Warrior Project, the charity that is dedicated to providing financial assistance and services to severely injured combat veterans (I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials).
A noble cause, no one would argue that.
However, it appears that the politically correct leadership of the WWP has an issue with gun owners.
That’s right, some of the very people that (a) their charity assists on a day-to-day basis (I don’t know the numbers off hand, but I’d venture to guess that a large portion of veterans own firearms) and (b) would be most inclined to send in donations (gun owners, by and large, are ardently pro-military, pro-troops).
So, here’s what happened, Tom Gresham, the host of the nationally-syndicated talk show, ‘Gun Talk,’ invited WWP to appear on the show, this past Monday, Veteran’s Day, to promote all the good things WWP does for the troops.
Instead of simply accepting the invite, getting some free publicity and potentially raking in a boatload of donations, WWP declined to appear, citing this policy:
WWP does not co-brand, create cause marketing campaigns or receive a percentage or a portion of proceeds from companies in which the product or message is sexual, political or religious in nature, or from alcohol or firearms companies.
Well, the problem with that statement is that in addition to being untrue (see Playboy Video below), it’s also asinine.
Naturally, when Gresham received this response he was, to use his word, “flabbergasted.” So, he pressed a little to see what was up, to see why WWP would snub the gun community in such an explicit way.
Here’s the email he got in return:
Good morning –
This policy is not a judgment on those who own and use firearms – clearly every member of our armed forces has been trained in the use of firearms and then called on to use them in the course of their service to this country.
Our position regarding firearms and alcohol is in response to the struggles that many injured service members face with substance abuse and suicide and the roles those items often play in those issues.
LESLIE A. COLEMAN
Public Relations Director
And, here’s how he fired back (you can see, the whole email chain by clicking here).
Thank you for that explanation.
I do think — and I’m being as kind as possible — that it’s the nuttiest thing I’ve heard in years. Suicides are not linked to firearms. Japan has a much higher rate of suicide than does the U.S., and they have essentially no firearms. Suicide is a serious issue irrespective of the methodology used.
Your policy does, in fact, brand firearms and the companies which make them as undesirables, and by association, you are saying that those who own and use firearms for recreation, hunting, self protection, and other safe and legal uses are to be avoided.
It’s certainly your option to ostracize the firearms industry, the 90 million gun owners in America, and the media which support firearms safety training.
At this point, I feel an obligation to make sure the millions who listen to my radio show and watch my two national television series know about your policy.
I cannot fully express how much I feel you are doing a disservice to our wounded veterans, and how disappointed I am to discover this bias at the Wounded Warriors Project.
This back and forth sparked an outpour of support for Gresham. Hundreds of Facebook users weighed in on the situation, some of them veterans.
“Why all of a sudden do you distance yourself from gun owners?” wrote Frank Newingham, a U.S. Air Force veteran. “You had no problem from taking money from the Playboy mansion, Ranger Proof and GPI Custom Gunworks, and several hundred thousand from other various major gun manufacturers. If you are running from our rights then you are running from America! I will never give your organization another dime! Everything you get pays your CEO his $300k annual salary anyways. This message is sent by a veteran!!”
“I am a wounded warrior being medically retired in December,” veteran Marc Toomey told WWP. “It was brought to my attention from associates and friends that your organization pretty much told ‘Gun Talk Radio’ to take a flying leap (tactfully) when they offered the WWP the opportunity for public exposure. I listen to the program and the biggest thing promote is gun safety and core family values. Many veterans have contributed to the contents broadcasted or published. They also promote veterans who are in need of help to seek it out and provide points of contact to do so.”
As this story begins to go viral, I’d imagine that WWP would want to get out in front of it and rectify the situation as quickly as possible.
At the very least an apology and some clarification is in order — that is, if WWP values contributions made by the gun-owning public.