Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Sheryl Bilbrey, President, CEO, Better Business Bureau San Diego
San Diegans are known for being big supporters of the military and of causes that help veterans.
Many local organizations support military families, work to find veteran's employment after their military service and help homeless vets get back on their feet.
But not all veterans charities do what they say they'll do.
A recent investigative report by News21 found that some charities, many started since the attack of 9/11, have misused tens of millions of dollars donated to help veterans across the country.
One of the charities highlighted in the story is the Help Hospitalized Veterans charity based in Hemet.
An analysis by the investigative reporting project News 21 found that HHV spent only 25 cents of every dollar it raised on arts-and-crafts kits and “craft care specialists” as “diversion therapy for veterans facing extended hospitalization.” Most of the remaining funds paid for mass mailings soliciting more money and volunteers.
Last week, California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced a settlement with HHV. Harris sued the charity for improperly diverting funds intended to go veterans and active-duty service members.
"Veterans face many challenges when they return home -- it's unconscionable that Help Hospitalized Veterans officials misused charitable money intended for those who served and have sacrificed for our country," Harris said in a statement.
While federal and state laws require charities to report their finances, the report by News 21 suggests they don't go far enough to show results of services charities say they'll provide.
According to News 21, in the years that the U.S. has been at war, Americans have given more than $12 billion to veterans’ and military charities. Since 2001, donations grew nationwide from more than $615 million to more than $1.6 billion.