That didn’t take long.
Within hours after the story went viral, executives at the Wounded Warrior Project are attempting to provide clarification for the charity’s seemingly odd and hypocritical policy concerning the gun community.
If you’re not familiar with what is going on, nationally-syndicated talk show host, Tom Gresham invited WWP to appear on his show, ‘Gun Talk,’ on Veteran’s Day. WWP, which provides assistance to wounded combat veterans, turned down the invite, 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.”
The problem with this policy is that, in the past, WWP has co-branded with Playboy and has taken money from firearm companies and appeared at gun shows in an effort to raise funds (for more on this, click here).
So, the big question is why is WWP refusing to align itself with members of the gun community all of sudden?
Well, a spokesman for WWP offered a more in-depth explanation for the charity’s current position in an email to a concerned member of Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), Laurie Lee Dovey, who reached out to WWP after learning about the Gresham incident (Gresham is also a member of POMA).
Good afternoon Ms. Dovey,
Leslie Coleman forwarded me your email. Thanks so much for reaching out to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) and for providing an opportunity to clarify matters. Let me start off by saying that we have seen through this process that the language on our website and our response to Mr. Gresham wasn’t clear and we are working on clarifying our approach. There is now much inaccurate information about WWP being anti-gun rights, an issue as an apolitical organization we do not take a stance on. We understand and appreciate that many of our Alumni are gun owners and we facilitate multiple hunting and outdoor opportunities for our Wounded Warriors throughout the year.
In the past, we made our logo available to appear on wide variety of products, including guns. As an organization, we owe it to our donors and constituents to maximize the return on investment of our dollars and brand. We are always looking at our business practices and whether we should continue with them in the future. In the case of cobranding, we’ve decided that we’re not going to offer our logo to appear on weapons anymore – whether they’re guns, knives, bows, swords, or any other type of weapon. There are still a few of the guns around for sale that had licensed our logo years ago, but there aren’t any new ones being made. This is purely a business decision based on a review of a return on investment, especially when compared with other types of cobranding ventures.
Regarding the question of donations and events, we do permit fundraisers that are shooting- and gun-related, such as gun raffles, shooting competitions, etc., and we’re incredibly appreciative of those who are willing to give their time to host or participate in an event. Likewise, we gratefully accept donations from companies and individuals connected with the gun industry.
As indicated above, we know that hunting and shooting sporting events can be very therapeutic for many of the Wounded Warriors we serve, and we’re happy to work with the community to make these types of events available to our Alumni. Hunting and shooting sport enthusiasts are an incredibly supportive and generous community, and we’ve been honored by how often folks have opened their land and homes, and volunteered their time to make these types of events possible for our Alumni. We certainly regret the appearance of a lack of appreciation for the support the community has given us based on a confusingly communicated business decision.
I hope the above provides some clarity. We welcome the opportunity to have a warrior on Mr. Gresham’s show to discuss how hunting or events of the like have supported their recovery. We responded too quickly to his request and should have delved a bit deeper.
Thanks so much and please feel free to call me with any questions.
Satisfied? Is this a sufficient enough explanation?
Just to show you the magnitude of the situation, a Board Member of the NRA also emailed WWP after learning about the incident. Here’s what he had to say:
Dear Ms. Coleman [of WWP],
I am a member of the National Rifle Association board of directors. I have been made aware of the WWP’s policy of not associating with firearms companies, or the firearms industry.
I find this policy absurd. I want to inform you that as a member of the NRA board it is my intention to introduce a motion at our January board meeting to assure that the NRA does not promote, support, or in any other manner support the WWP. I will also request that the NRA’s 4 million members and their families are made aware of your anti-gun position.
Thank you for your time.
It should be noted that those are Rathner’s thoughts and not the NRA’s official position with respect to WWP. Also, it’s unclear as to whether Rathner saw the latest correspondence from Ayla Hay.
WWP does some great work, no doubt about that. It would be a shame if WWP failed to completely reconcile with the gun community. It appears, though, given the latest email from Ayla Hay, that WWP is on its way to restoring that relationship.
We’ll keep you posted as more news develops.
Also, big thanks again to Examiner.com and the intrepid reporting of David Codrea and Dave Workman.