The Wounded Warrior Project helps returning service members adjust to home life after returning home from war with physical and psychological injuries. This organization is one that I have supported personally, and their mission is one that is close to the heart of everyone at The Patriot Statesman.
Recent emails from Leslie Coleman, The Wounded Warrior Project’s public relations director, showed a very different side of the organization that many have found quite shocking.
These emails were exposed by gun writer and television host Tom Gresham. Gresham invited The Wounded Warrior Project onto his television show, Gun Talk, to help increase awareness and support fundraising for the WWP organization. Leslie declined to be on Gresham’s show, indicating that The Wounded Warrior Project “does not co-brand, create cause marketing campaigns or receive a percentage or a portion of proceeds from companies in which the product or message is sexual, political or religious in nature, or from alcohol or firearms companies.”
The following is the complete email exchange:
Sarah forwarded me your email after I asked her to invite the Wounded Warriors Project to join me on “Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk” radio show.
I’m stunned at your email saying that the WWP doesn’t participate in an interview or activity related to firearms. Inasmuch as there are 90 million gun owners and most of them support wounded veterans, I think they would be shocked to hear that they are, by way of their hobbies, somehow not worthy of helping with the Wounded Warriors Project.
Does your policy apply also to police agencies and the military, since they are “related to firearms?”
I’m hoping that we have misunderstood your email. Can you confirm that it is, in fact, an official policy of the Wounded Warriors Project to not do interviews with or participate in any activity related to firearms?
Wounded Warrior Project’s PR director Leslie Coleman soon responded:
Good afternoon –
While we appreciate your interest in Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) you are correct that we decline the media opportunity.
Please note the following notice that appears on our website which also applies to WWP public awareness policy and inquiries from media outlets:
WWP does not co-brand, create cause marketing campaigns or receive a percentage or a portion of proceeds from companies in which the product or message is sexual, political or religious in nature, or from alcohol or firearms companies.
Thank you for your inquiry.
LESLIE A. COLEMAN
public relations director
Wounded Warrior Project
4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300
Jacksonville, Florida 32256
Leslie Coleman made it very clear that WWP doesn’t not want their brand associated with any message that is sexual, political or religious in nature, or related to alcohol or firearms companies.
I can understand that they would not want to be connected to a sexually oriented business, but why does the WWP distance itself from firearms and religion?
Although they claim to not associate their brand with these topics, they have done so in the past. For example, here is a link to the WWP holding an event at the Playboy Mansion – one of the most iconic sexually oriented businesses in the world. Here is another link announcing that WWP will be taking donations from Trijicon and Kahr Arms, two well know brands in the firearms business
The email exchange continues:
Thanks for confirming that, Leslie. It was a simple opportunity to promote the WWP on a national program in an effort to send donations your way.
I’ll pass along the info that you don’t want or need the help of America’s gun owners.
Good morning –
This policy is not a judgment on those who own and use firearms – clearly every member of our armed forces has been trained in the use of firearms and then called on to use them in the course of their service to this country.
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.
LESLIE A. COLEMAN
public relations director
Thank you for that explanation.
I do think — and I’m being as kind as possible — that it’s the nuttiest thing I’ve heard in years. Suicides are not linked to firearms. Japan has a much higher rate of suicide than does the U.S., and they have essentially no firearms. Suicide is a serious issue irrespective of the methodology used.
This explanation doesn’t pass even the most simple “does this make sense” test.
Your policy does, in fact, brand firearms and the companies which make them as undesirables, and by association, you are saying that those who own and use firearms for recreation, hunting, self protection, and other safe and legal uses are to be avoided.
It’s certainly your option to ostracize the firearms industry, the 90 million gun owners in America, and the media which support firearms safety training.
At this point, I feel an obligation to make sure the millions who listen to my radio show and watch my two national television series know about your policy.
I cannot fully express how much I feel you are doing a disservice to our wounded veterans, and how disappointed I am to discover this bias at the Wounded Warriors Project.
Leslie Coleman explained that the same service members that put their life on the line to defend our Constitution and Bill of Rights – the same Bill of Rights that protects our right to bear arms – now cannot be trusted with guns because they might kill themselves with them. Gresham’s response to this logic was right on the mark.
In response to a firestorm of questions about whether or not the Wounded Warrior Project is anti-gun, the organization’s CEO Steven Nardizzi has agreed to appear on the Gun Talk Radio show to explain WWP’s policy on firearms, working with firearms companies, and more.
“I’m really glad that the Wounded Warrior Project is coming on the show to clarify their position on this,” said radio show host Tom Gresham. “It has been really confusing to see them taking donations from firearms manufacturers as well as hunting groups, and then to be told that they won’t appear in public with us. The latest communication from WWP is that this is all a big mistake and that they want to clear it up with me this Sunday.”