Veterans Charity Shut Down: 'Did Virtually Nothing for Veterans'
“For years VietNow has scammed donations from people who thought their money would be used to support necessary services for our military veterans. Instead, VietNow pocketed donations and did virtually nothing for veterans. Today’s settlement finally will put an end to VietNow’s egregious fraud,” said the Attorney General of Illinois in a November 6th, 2017 press release.
The Illinois AG’s press release announced a settlement led by Illinois, California, Michigan and Ohio, and joined by 20 other states, to dissolve VietNow National Headquarters (VietNow). VietNow and its 14-member board agreed to settle allegations that included misleading donors as to who was soliciting donations and how donations were actually used; as well as spending “the overwhelming majority of donations” on for-profit professional fundraisers and other administrative costs rather than on programs for veterans, according to the Illinois AG’s release.
VietNow, which was based in Rockford, IL and also went by the name of VeteransNow, has been rated an “F” by CharityWatch since 2001. VietNow spent only a measly 4% of its cash budget on programs and had an $88 cost to raise every $100 in funds in 2016, according to CharityWatch’s analysis.
VietNow will be shut down under the terms of the settlement agreement, and any of its remaining assets will be distributed equally to Fisher House Foundation and Operation Homefront, two national veterans’ charities. (Fisher House and Operation Homefront are each Top-Rated by CharityWatch.) Additionally, the agreed order filed by the Illinois AG removes all of VietNow’s 14 board members and bans its four controlling officers from any future fundraising, charity management, or oversight of any charitable assets in Illinois. Each of the other 23 states investigating VietNow also will enter into a state-specific settlement agreement with VietNow and its controlling directors containing terms similar to those in the Illinois order.
In light of the VietNow settlement, the Attorney General of Michigan’s November 6th press release provided donors with sound advice about veterans charities: “This settlement [with VietNow] rids the country of a veterans charity that deceived donors, helped very few veterans, and largely served to enrich its professional fundraisers. Sadly, deceptive veterans’ charities remain a problem. Donors should remain vigilant [emphasis added].”