Oak Ridge group shifts fundraising focus after Wounded Warrior scandal

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By Bob Fowler of the Knoxville News Sentinel

OAK RIDGE — An Oak Ridge-based nonprofit that seeks to help veterans and their families has switched its fundraising focus this year from supporting the national Wounded Warrior Project to helping two area organizations.

The move by Pull For Our Veterans comes after a scandal rocked the Wounded Warrior Project over allegations of lavish spending and high overhead.

Two top administrators with the Wounded Warrior Project were fired in March amid reports that just 60 percent of the organization’s budget was being spent on veterans.

Since Pull For Our Veterans was started in 2012, “it’s donated close to $100,000 to support the Wounded Warrior Project and had its best year yet in 2015 when it brought in over $55,000,” according to a news release from the local organization.

Richard Stouder, president of Pull for Our Veterans, said the local nonprofit “re-evaluated our support for the Wounded Warrior Project based on news reports over the past year.”

The decision also was based on the responses Wounded Warrior Project has given to the news reports, “both in the media and to the questions we asked them,” Stouder said a statement released Sunday.

“We then decided, for at least 2016, to support organizations that supported veterans and their families in an around Knoxville.”

Pull For Our Veterans, which holds fundraisers at shooting events, will this year donate its proceeds to the Fisher House Foundation and Honor Air Knoxville. Those groups are “two great organizations that do a lot, but they need help and we’re proud to support them,” Stouder said in a news release.

Fisher House Foundation provides lodging for members of the armed services and their families receiving care in military and veterans’ hospitals. It also funds a scholarship program and provides military personnel and their families with free air travel and hotel rooms, according to the news release.

Honor Air Knoxville is dedicated to honoring East Tennessee veterans of the wars in Vietnam and Korea and in World War II by flying them free of charge on a brief trip to Washington, D.C. Each Honor Air trip costs about $500 per veteran.

Pull For Our Veterans is hosting two fundraising events this year; the Memorial Day Weekend Sporting Clays Shoot in Sweetwater, Tenn., on May 27-28, sponsored by the Luck 7 Ranch; and the fifth annual Skeet and Trap Fun Shoot at the Oak Ridge Sportsmen’s Association facilities on Sept. 16-18.

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