I received an email Monday morning that stopped me in my tracks. It contained a link to the seemingly noble organization called the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) -- a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt, federally registered charity whose own mission statement says:
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation provides full scholarship grants and educational and family counseling to the surviving children of special operations personnel who die in operational or training missions and immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel and their families.
As a veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom I thought, "what a meaningful charitable organization to give my support." But sadly, things are not as noble as they look.
Read a little further on the homepage of the SOWF website, under the "Latest News" column, and you will see a link to none other than Glenn Beck. Yes, that Glenn Beck.
SOWF, it turns out, is the designated charitable organization that will benefit from a rally Glenn Beck is hosting on August 28th on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC -- it is being called the "Restoring Honor Rally." (www.glennbeck.com/828/).
Or at least that is what Glenn Beck and SOWF want you to believe.
What is actually happening -- and what is so obviously wrong -- is that the rally is not actually raising money for SOWF. SOWF is raising all the money to pay for the rally.
Don't believe me? Just read the plain-as-day, italicized font on the SOWF website:
All contributions made to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) will first be applied to the costs of the Restoring Honor Rally taking place on August 28, 2010. All contributions in excess of these costs will then be retained by the SOWF.
That's weird, I thought. I give $100 to SOWF and it goes to Glenn Beck first, college scholarships for children of deceased special operators (maybe) second? Why would Glenn Beck be using a charitable organization, whose mission it is to provide college scholarships to the children of deceased special operators, as the financing arm of his "non-political, non-partisan" rally?
Glenn Beck got paid $18 million last year. Surely, these kids need the money more than he does.
Should it not be the other way around? I would think you would donate to the rally and then they would donate the money to SOWF? I am a Navy veteran and not a lawyer, but does that not smell like someone exploiting a charity at the least, or money-laundering at worst?
Let's cut to the chase and stop being naïve. The Special Operations Warrior Foundation is now serving as a financial front man for the right-wing, Fox News demagogue that is Glenn Beck. This so-called "rally" has nothing to do with SOWF's stated (and noble) mission of giving college scholarships to children of deceased servicemembers.
We all know this rally is going to be nothing more than an anti-Obama, anti-government, pro-Tea Party hate-fest with Glenn Beck spewing his vitriol under the banner of "supporting our troops."
Well, as one of those troops, I am calling this for what it is -- a deceitful and deceptive attempt on behalf of far-right extremists to profit off of the memory of my fellow servicemen and women killed in action. Nothing is more wrong or disgusting.
Similarly, why is the leadership of the SOWF putting at risk their tax-exempt charitable status by engaging in this activity? Why would they risk the good name and good work they have done in the past in order to support someone like Glenn Beck?
Oh, I see, SOWF's Board of Directors is stacked with right-wing ideologues like Erik Prince, the founder and head of Blackwater (yes, that Blackwater).
Do what you want, but I will keep giving my money to real charities like Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Achilles International's Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans and The Wounded Warrior Project -- organizations that actually provide support to Veterans and their families who have earned and need the assistance.
I have no need to give my money to a multi-millionaire, hate-spewing faux patriot who has never served a day in his life in uniform, but would rather take money from those that have.
Shame on you Glenn Beck and SOWF. What a disgrace.
Follow Rob Diamond on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ridiamond