Wounded Warrior Project Draws a Line in the Sand Against Guns and Knives

By Dave Dolbee published on in General, News

Author’s note: Please read through the entire article BEFORE passing judgment or choosing to comment.

A coworker once described me as so patriotic that all I lacked was a trail of fireworks shooting out of my bum. I served six years on active duty, three tours during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I can give a firsthand account of the sight and smells during the aftermath of the Turkey Shoot or the feeling of being on the first ship to enter the Gulf after Saddam invaded Kuwait. Today, I am a bit longer in the tooth, but no less patriotic.

photo of the carnage left behind after the the US bombed Saddam's forces fleeing Iraq

The carnage left behind after the U.S. bombed Saddam’s forces fleeing Iraq, commonly referred to as the Highway of Death or Turkey Shoot.

In the past, I have championed hiring veterans over others because I understood their dedication and work ethic to have survived boot camp and the military structure. I’ve held back well-meaning, but uneducated, “sillyvilians” when a Navy SEAL explained the folly of claiming to have been a Navy SEAL when you had not.

The discussion did not last long, but at least the wannabe could then honestly claim he had been in a skirmish with one of the best warfighters in the world and shed some of his own blood (albeit from the nose and lip and not the breast) in the process. He did not win the Purple Heart for his efforts, but I suspect he was rewarded with a purple eye by the next morning…

I love America and have more respect for those who made the sacrifice—be it the ultimate, lasting injury or simply being away from family and loved ones—than I can express in words…And I look for ways to show that respect every day, not simply on Memorial and Veteran’s Day.

To support our fighting men and women, I have worked behind the scenes as a contractor in the intelligence arena, solicited money to buy supplies, packed care packages and attended the funerals of friends who sacrificed all. I have also had the honor and pleasure of participating in hunts with our wounded heroes in conjunction with the Wounded Warrior Project.

Veterans who wear the scars—internal or external—and prosthetics from war injuries deserve the highest amount of respect and support we can offer, which has led me to this dilemma.

Although the controversy is just making its way to the mainstream radar, the Wounded Warrior Project has been disassociating itself with firearms and knives for the past couple of years. References on its website have changed from “firearms” to “weapons.” Corporate sponsors such as Savage Arms are now replaced with Acosta Sales and Marketing and UHAUL.

Listening to a recent interview with Wounded Warrior Project’s CEO Steve Nardizzi, well, you would have thought it was ‘ol Slick Willy dodging the question. He started off by saying the WWP supported the Second Amendment and was happy to participate in hunting adventures and shoots as fundraisers—yet it prohibits using the WWP logo at such events.

Nardizzi went on to explain that the Wounded Warrior Project would not co-brand with firearm or knife manufacturers and retailers. He explained, “The return on investment just wasn’t there.” Return on investment? How much investment is WWP putting into the pot? It has no problem taking the firearm industry’s money; it just doesn’t want to be seen in public with us. So, essentially, the Wounded Warrior Project’s stance is that it does not want to be seen kissing us after it is done poking us?

What a great message this sends to our wounded heroes: “You were trusted with assault weapons (real ones, not what politician’s term ‘assault weapons’ when seeking reelection) until you were injured in service to our country.” Then…well, you might decide to hurt yourself so—in defense of the WWP’s reputation, not your future well being—we cannot be seen as partnering with ‘those companies’ in public.”

Sailor Shooting skeet from aboard the USS Antietam CG-54

The author was one of the lucky ones managing to return home unharmed and with a few fond memories such as enjoying a few rounds of skeet while aboard ship. Other returning veterans were not as lucky and need our support.

This was brought out in Leslie A. Coleman’s—public relations director for WWP—response to an e-mail message asking for a clarification to its stance, “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.” I wonder if WWP even considered the fact that the extra money could go toward additional support and treatment. Sweeping it under the carpet by playing politics sure as hell isn’t going to prevent a tragedy, but funds and support might!

If WWP does not want to play with the firearms industry, and it is all about the money, well WWP picked which side of the fence it wanted to be on, not me. And let’s go a step further in seeking the truth. It is not about the money. While being interviewed Nardizzi explained that co-branding requires significant internal coordination with lawyers, PR people and others to manage it and finished by stating that we wouldn’t understand it. Really? I certainly do.

Nardizzi was then countered with the suggestion of an offer to cover all WWP internal expenses, then co-brand (use WWP’s logo on guns and knives) as a way to contribute to WWP. Nardizzi refused to give a straight answer. So if it is all about the money and you offer to cover all costs, why wouldn’t WWP jump at the opportunity? Because it is not now, nor has it ever been about the money—it’s about the politics.

During the interview, Nardizzi took the offensive, saying, he “can’t believe donors would withhold donations from wounded vets because we don’t get anything out of it” (use of the logo). Yet, WWP would risk losing donations by playing politics instead of focusing on raising the funds to help our vets.

And this is where my dilemma really begins. Wounded Warrior Project does help a significant number of vets, and a call to action against it could negatively impact those vets. Would the onus of withholding support because of WWP’s position be on me, or WWP who made the decision? Either way it is the vets who could feel the pain from WWP’s politics and that has kept me up at night.

So I have a choice to make; after significant thought and soul searching (I would say prayer, but WWP bans any religiously affiliated organization as well—WWP lumps it in the same category as, guns, knives, sex and alcohol; although WWP has held fundraisers at the Playboy Mansion in the past), I have decided to drop my support of the Wounded Warrior Project, but NOT for those it serves.

In that regard, I plan to do quite the opposite.

I am pledging to double my efforts—both financially and physically—over the next year to one (or several) of the other great organizations dedicated to helping our wounded vets and challenge you to do the same.

Now, some have suggested that there is pressure from the board, from big donors or from elsewhere to take this position and it really is not Wounded Warrior Project’s fault. Who knows, and who cares? I will vet other organizations before offering my support. Quite honestly, I do not care if it takes money from the anti-gun crowd as well as the pro-gun groups. Apolitical is just fine with me. My priority is to help our wounded veterans any way I can, but I will not deal with those organizations bent on taking a stance firmly against organizations, groups or beliefs that I strongly relate with. An organization does not have to endorse my beliefs, but it certainly cannot sweep it under the carpet as the Wounded Warrior Project has done. “Oh, you are with who? Guns? Please leave your money at the back door, WWP does not want to be seen accepting it at the front!”

A call to action has been started by other industry leaders and I am going to follow in those footsteps.

  • We need to start speaking out.
  • Whenever the media airs a distorted report about guns, we have to be vocal in our opposition.
  • When a business or politician makes an outrageous statement that is disparaging toward gun owners, we need speak out.
  • Businesses that label firearm manufacturers, retailers and gun owners as ‘undesirable’ must understand the act will result in the loss of our support. We have rights and alternatives—we will exercise both!

To do any less is tantamount to passive acknowledgement and agreement to the policies that seeks to demonize our sport.

This is my list of organizations at which I am looking to move my support:

Operation Homefront


National Military Family Association


Fisher House Foundation


Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors – T.A.P.S.


Let’s Bring ‘Em Home


Special Operations Warriors Foundation


Navy Seal Foundation


The Semper Fi Fund

(A highly-rated charity that helps wounded vets of all branches)


I am sure there are as many opinions in support, as against, the Wounded Warrior Project’s stance of excluding certain groups. So please, feel free to express your comments and let everyone know of your favorite charities for veterans.


The opinions and statements contained within this article are solely those of the author and in no way should be construed to be reflective of Cheaper Than Dirt, its management or employees or any other commercial or non-profit entity mentioned in this article.

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Comments (169)

  • Mikial


    With all the graft, skimming and political game-playing going in so many of the organizations that claim to be charitable and apolitical, this really comes as no surprise. Sad, but not surprising.

    I would like to personally endorse the Special Operations Warriors Foundation. This is the real deal and is endorsed by many of the SOCOM folks down at McDill in Tampa. When my good friend Thomas Smith, who I worked with for several years in Afghanistan, passed away a couple of years ago, his family asked that rather than send flowers or cards people should make a contribution to the Special Operations Warriors Foundation.


  • Pro2Aguy


    Kudos Mr. Dolbee on addressing a very sensitive issue whereby avoidance of potentially offending someone is virtually impossible. I couldn’t agree more and while I have not had the distinct pleasure of serving my Country in this capacity, I know many Servicemen that wholeheartedly agree with you here. The good news as you pontificate is that we are not confined to any one measure and or organization to be sure…Quite the opposite in that we are fortunate to have many alternatives readily available to Help our Proud Vets…As a life-long civilian, I feel obligated to do what I can in other capacities to say thanks and give back to the very Servicemen that protect us and the freedoms we all enjoy. God Bless Our Troops and God Bless America on this Solemn Veterans Day.


  • David Johns


    Great Post
    Watch this briefing by LCPL Drew Hicks http://youtu.be/zZHGimldI5w. I will not support @wwpinc because condoning this event http://exm.nr/1imsnne destroys a man’s ability to have healthy relationships. Arguably more harmful than PTSD.


  • Reed bourgeois


    Another anti-gun organization using our soldiers to make /steal money on their behalf. Sad’!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I join others in not giving anymore. I find an org that supports our GOD,U S values,troops and constitution.


  • Jerry Reed


    Please add Texas based Operation Military Embrace, Inc., “OME”, (EIN: 56-2656711) to your list of great military support charities. We are a Christ-centered 501c3 that supports injured and ill from all of America’s combat arms and we enjoy sponsoring hunting trips for our Warriors. OME is the only organization in the nation to run a free P-X for injured and ill and their family members. To date, OME has served and supported 11,835 injured and family members and we have no paid staff and do not use our injured Warriors as walking billboards advertising our organization nor do we exploit them for fundraising purposes … we work hard to do our work as Christ would have us do it. Our website is http://www.operationmilitaryembrace.com and you can see our tax returns and audited financials on the website. Semper Fidelis,
    Jerry P. Reed, President/Executive Director (USMC – Chu Lai, RVN Oct ’67 – Nov ’68)


  • Dave Dolbee


    CVMA Dredd – I bounced between commands. I started out on the USS Antietam CG-54 which was one of the first ships to enter the Gulf after Kuwait was invaded. I transferred just before the start of hostilities to another ship when (TAD). We she was ready to rotate home, I was put on staff duty in the region. A typical naval deployment would be six months, which of course I did not complete with two of the three commands. However, each of the ships I rode out of the Gulf region for at least one day and was then transferred back into the region which reset the clock for awards and time in theatre etc. ~ Dave Dolbee


  • CVMA Dredd


    Sidebar: How does one do “three tours” in a six month war? It took me 39 months to complete three tours in Iraq.


  • StenUSMC (Ret)


    @ThankYouVets – that wasn’t from me…that was from CSM (R) Tim. I will not contribute to WWP because of what I found out when visiting CharityNavigator.org and talking with my fellow veterans. I will support DAV, MCL, USO, etc. since most of the money contributed to those organizations go to actually helping veterans, not providing someone who has never served a six figure salary.


  • Casey B


    For all the people viewing this, I support an organization known as Camp Patriot. I performed my Eagle Scout project for this group, I personally know the founder and several board members. This organization puts virtually all funds towards taking veterans, wounded in combat, on outdoor adventures. This includes amputees on hikes on Mt. Rainier, a blinded navy seal on an elk hunt, and a wide variety of other activities. They fully support the second amendment and are just a great bunch of guys.

    Just giving you all an alternative to check out. God Bless


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