WHERE DOES YOUR VETERAN CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTION REALLY GO?
“Coming Home was honestly the worst part of my war!”
~Robert Clark, USMC
On May 17th, VR Bangers, a Virtual Reality adult entertainment company, started a socially responsible campaign to support the troops of the United States of America, doing multiple activities to provide for the American soldiers (both active and veteran) and promoting their cause within the entire adult industry.
You do not have to be an American patriot to understand that soldiers – both in active service and veterans – represent one of the most important social groups within the society, for it is the security of the whole country and the fate of all other citizens that depend on them. After all, in the end, during the war everyone’s lives – regardless of their role in the state – rely upon their troops.
These brave warriors, out-of-hand following the orders of American leaders, every day of their service risk lives for the rest of the society to sleep well – to eventually irreversibly become veterans that, as it turns out, together with teachers are among the most underserved population segments.
These two most important groups of individuals in the country – one responsible for its education and another for its safety – are to be the most overlooked in the sense of their benefits and appreciation, and it has just come to light that if you ever want to support them, your country and its prevailing restrictions might effectively prevent you from doing that – and if you manage to make a donation, it may never reach a wallet of an actual veteran.
According to CNY Central, “The (…) Veterans Foundation raised more than $29 million in four years and less than 2% actually went to Veterans’ causes.” What is more, “donations that were meant for the men and women who serve our country instead went to line the pockets of the national charity’s founder,” which is the case for multiple charity foundations that are using the good name of American veterans for their personal benefits – and, to add to the controversy, it is also widely practiced to deny the donations if the charity company has any contraindications to the nature of the donor.
What started as a marketing campaign, created for the Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, turned out to be a huge chain of events and interactions – meaning both a lot of positive feedback from actual American soldiers and other adult-related companies, and, unfortunately, also a denial from charities that were supposed to support the troops and – most of all – not to impede the providing of backing of those who actually want to help those in the biggest need.
Through the special page at vrbangers.com/heroes launched on the occasion – after the statistical research run by VR Bangers that revealed that almost 37% of their US members were either currently active or retired military personnel – the company started its campaign including two major aspects: a complementary content access to US military personnel worldwide for two months, and the percentage of the revenue from the campaign to be donated to a veteran-related charity.
Apart from that, producers were promoting their activity inside of the entire adult market and received an overwhelming amount of support from their members, corporate partners – like XBIZ, Svakom®, Spunk and many other leading adult-related brands – and multiple top adult models – like Kendra Lust, Nicole Aniston, Ryan Kelly, Alina Lopez, Brandi Love, Reagan Foxx, Milana Ricci – who spread the word and showed their support of the campaign on their social media channels. However, with such an enormous feedback from many different people, it quickly turned out that the situation is much more complicated than it might seem.
Among the hundreds of messages that the company received as part of its charity work, many of them were extremely alarming.
Quoting one of the mails received by the producers: “I am a veteran. 21 years old, Green Beret 100% disabled. I just wanted to let you all know that it’s great that 10% goes to supposed veteran support charities which are only required to use 11% of the total they get on vets. And then being one of veterans who need their help I haven’t found one of those supposed veteran-support sites that would actually help a veteran. The vets that they claim to help are designated veteran family members if veterans at all. I made it all the way to delta and I’ve been ripped off by VA and veteran support does not exist in this country. Sorry to tell you but it’s true.”
The abovementioned message is the living proof of the case publicized by CNY Central, and, out of sudden, VR Bangers came to the very center of the problem – yet this was still not the only issue uncovered.
Apart from that – as mentioned above – producers promised to donate 10% of their take for the duration of this campaign to a veteran-related charity. As expected, the feedback from the company critics online was positive, supporting the offer and the underlying philanthropic motive, and also requesting a follow-up on the promise of the donation with the details of the charity that has accepted it – yet, in short, it was almost impossible to fulfill this given word, as almost every public charity foundation has made it practically impossible to donate for such a company.
VR Bangers’ Marketing Director, Igor Zhivago, reached out to national veteran charities with an offer of a sizeable donation and an opportunity for the joint PR to commemorate the successful completion of the campaign, and this is where things took an odd turn. At first, the charities were being overly cautious and were denying the company to submit the proceeds to them under the premise of “not being associated with adult industry for political and public reasons”.
“We received tremendous positive praise and feedback from the online community, with a very logical warning of wanting to witness us seeing it through and making good on our promises. And this is exactly what we thought we could do, but…,” says the Marketing Director. “…but this is where the obstacles started to arise.”
Zhivago continues with: “I personally contacted charities like The Gary Sinise Foundation, Semper Fi Fund, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Fisher House Foundation, Freedom Service Dogs of America, Air Warrior Courage Foundation, Operation Second Chance, Hope for the Warriors and another sixty seven national and local charities, and they all ‘respectfully declined’ our charitable contribution to ‘maintain the positive public image of the company and to ensure continuous donations from regular donors.’” Such an excusing statement does nothing but demonstrates how sanctimony and uncovered discrimination still take place in our society, even there where it seemed it could never be at all.
According to the New York Post, this is not the first such situation, as another major adult entertainment site with almost 60 million visitors a day has also been some time ago disallowed from submitting their donation – a $75,000 donation for breast cancer research and $25,000 college scholarship have been turned down because of the nature of the donor raising the money. Perhaps the funds were not for the veterans precisely, but they were still supposed to support a good cause – and yet they have been declined simply because of the nature of the adult industry in times when sex is openly used to promote all kinds of products, and you do not have to be an adult company to run a marketing campaign with a half-naked woman body that will boost your sales.
The problem seems to be so huge that even the high-tier politics cannot pretend that it does not exist. According to CNN politics, Beto O’Rourke – seeking the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 2020 – has already proposed a “war tax” as part of veterans’ plan – to help cover the health care of veterans of newly-authorized wars under his newest presidential campaign revealed only a few days ago. Perhaps such activities will manage to gain the attention of the society eventually – as for now the situation seems to be almost completely hopeless. Americans love, respect and honor our troops all year round – in fact, people donate more than $2.5 billion annually to the over 40,000 American charities with military-related missions.
Trying to fix the issue and increase the awareness of the cause, Marketing Director of VR Bangers reached out to the veterans, attempting to invite them to participate in a video shoot to promote the cause. He reached out to the soldiers with words: “I come from a military family. Many of my friends are in the military. Some of them have done multiple tours in the war zones. Our enterprise statistics show that almost 37% of our US members are either current or past members of the Armed Forces. They were the first ones to bring some severe issues up on online forums. This is when we found out that the veteran-related charity only has to prove using 10% of all donations for the veteran affairs. We heard of the unfair and discriminatory treatment, expensive potlucks for donors and low quality veteran care. This aggravates me yet again as I am writing this to you now. So, frankly, I got tired of hitting my head on the wall of ignorance and political correctness, and brought up a different idea to the executives of our company. They approved, and this is the reason you are receiving this letter.”
Zhivago continued: “We can’t solve this troubling issue, but we can do something. This is why we reached out to the veterans like yourself directly and although we can’t help everyone, we would like to divide the proceeds from our initiative into individual donations and present a group of veterans who reached back to us with our donations. And yes, we understand that we won’t be able to claim it as a charitable tax deduction, because the money goes to individuals, not 501(c)3. We are ok with it. We want to be sure that 100%, not 10% is going to those who can truly use it. As a part of our promise to the world we want to be able to show that the donations are actually making it to the correct recipients, which is why we are kindly requesting you help us by signing the release form and allowing us to film presenting you with the donation. These segments will become a part of our report to the observing community as a socially responsible company that is not afraid to cut through the red tape and stands by its promises.”
Many of related people positively responded to his inquiry, thus giving the company an opportunity to prepare more content to gain support on this, as it turned out, huge issue. One of the veterans, Mr. Robert Clarke, was willing to go on record and actually participated in the video interview with the company, in which he has openly spoken on multitude of issues veterans face today. After many tries and with the use of some “alternative” and non-direct methods, the company has managed to proceed with the transfer of their donated funds to a number of actual veterans personally.
For now the problem remains unsolved and only the time will show whether the reaction of public opinion will change anything in the way that charitable organizations currently operate – after all, it is unforgivable that within one of the most patriotic countries in the world you cannot freely donate to your chosen charity, and if, eventually, you will be allowed to, it is not even known whether your money will go to the right hands.
Knowing all the facts mentioned above, every person with a heart big enough to think about supporting a good cause – like, for example, the veterans being referred to in this particular case – could ask the question: does it even make any sense to donate if my money is not 100% certain to reach the intended goal? And it is definitely not the way the prevailing system should function – and, beyond everything else, that is for sure.
To get in touch with VR Bangers, make sure to visit their website over here.