CASHING IN ON AMERICA’S VETERANS

Roger Chapin calls himself a “non-profit entrepreneur.” You might call him a money-grubbing huckster… or worse.

Roger Chapin calls himself a “non-profit entrepreneur.” You might call him a money-grubbing huckster… or worse.

This San Diego business operator with big-name Republican connections has found a way to profit handsomely from the natural impulse of the American people to “support our troops.” Chapin runs a number of military-themed charities under the umbrella of a group with the heart-tugging name of Help Hospitalized Veterans. Who could resist that appeal? Indeed, in a two-year period, Chapin’s groups collected $160 million in donations from generous Americans.

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One of his groups is called The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, and it has had the help of a couple of retired generals to give weight to its solicitations. “I am proud to contribute my time and financial support to Salute America’s Hereos,” wrote retired Brigadier General Arthur Diehl III in a fundraising letter. Actually, Diehl didn’t exactly “contribute” his time, and much of the financial support flowed to him – he was paid $5,000 a month by Chapin’s charity. General Tommy Franks, who commanded George W’s Iraq invasion, has also cashed in. Franks got $100,000 from Chapin for use of his name and for promoting the Salute group.

Meanwhile, the American Institute of Philanthropy gives Chapin’s operation a grade of “F,” because only 25 percent of the money he collects ends up going to programs helping vets. The other 75 percent has gone to administrative costs, including a $426,000 payment to Chapin in 2006, $113,000 to his wife for serving as “newsletter editor,” $444,000 to buy a condo for the Chapins, $340,000 for such expenses as meals and entertainment, and even $17,000 for Chapin’s golf club membership!

These outfits seem confused on the concept of charity. It’s “support” our troops – not exploit them.

“Charitable Taking,” http://www.forbes.com/business/2007/12/21/chapin-fundraising-veterans-biz-cz_bb_1221chapin.html, December 21, 2007

“Generals get the glory – and the cash,” Austin American Statesman, January 26, 2008

“Gen. Tommy Franks Paid $100,000 To Endorse ‘F’ Veterans Charity,” < a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=4149437&page=1">www.abcnews.go.com, January 17, 2008

“Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes,” www.sourcewatch.org, January 2008

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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