Yet Another General Officer Endorses Non-Federal Charity
Michael Weinstein will no doubt be up in arms again. Just days after he excoriated MajGen Marty Umbarger for his September 2011 video favoring a military support charity, it seems another General officer has done a similar thing. The self-appointed watchdog for endorsements of non-Federal entities by uniformed officers will likely be enraged.
Brigadier General Loree Sutton appears in a video on the website of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which is clearly a charity and non-Federal entity. The “problem,” if there is one, is Gen Sutton sings the praises of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence and its facilities, which were funded and built entirely by the charity before being handed over to the military in 2010:
This is a place of hope, of healing. It is a place of inspiration. Its a place that will forever convey to those of us in uniform the unwavering gratitude of the citizens of the nation we serve.
The NICoE is technically part of Walter Reed — but everything about its beginnings was the IFHF, which also explains the name of the facility. General Sutton is not the only person to speak positively of the Center or the charity that started it:
Army officials say the foundation…has been highly effective because it can sidestep government bureaucracy on construction projects and provide a financial boost for medical advances that are desperately needed for injured soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors…
Col. Nikki Butler, director of the rehabilitation and reintegration division for the office of the Army surgeon general, said the Army is not dependent on the Intrepid Fund but does appreciate the help.
The charity — which counted among its donors everyone from Donald Trump to the Clintons — fully funded and built the facility on government land, and then gave the keys to the DoD. The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff participated in the ribbon cutting. Of course, that likely means Weinstein will demand the building be torn down, as even the stone in the lobby clearly notes it was built by the non-Federal IFHF.
In truth, it appears the DoD and the IFHF have “partnered” for several years to make this facility for America’s wounded warriors possible. The charitable support for the US military is commendable. The grand scope of this, however, does not disqualify it from the same guidance as every other event or relationship with charities.
Like General Dempsey’s support for ThanksUSA (a non-Federal entity), the US military’s relationship with the IFHF is apparently consistent with military and government regulations. That’s not only acceptable, it is laudable. It is admirable that the US military would partner with charitable organizations to support the well-being of its troops.
In fact, it has always been laudable, and charities and other support groups have long supported the US military — and the military has at times acknowledged the value of those contributions. Until Michael Weinstein complained, it had never been an issue.
Private citizens supporting US troops through charitable and other means — and the military acknowledging those contributions — is a positive in the relationship between the US military and the US public.
It is not a characteristic that should be rooted out, as Weinstein seems to claim.