It’s rated as one of the worst run veterans’ charities in the country, despite raking in millions upon millions of dollars each year. However, it’s not the business practices that are the most surprising part of National Vietnam Veterans Foundation. It’s who is running it.
According to a CNN report:
The CEO and founder of the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation, himself a veteran, is J. Thomas Burch, who is also a federal employee working as an attorney for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Burch is deputy director in the VA’s Office of General Counsel, where he pulled down $127,000 in salary in 2014. That’s the same year he drew a salary of $65,000 as head of his “zero-star” charity.
The VA has been besieged by complaints of mismanaged funds, poor veteran care and general incompetence due to several high profile issues in recent years.
Despite making less than $200,000 per year with his two salaries combined, Burch drives a Rolls Royce, a high-end luxury car usually owned by seven figure earners. That same car sped down the street away from his home when Burch saw a CNN camera crew.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, after being contacted by CNN, says that it is currently investigating Burch’s role with the charity.
Charity Navigator, one of the most well known charity review and audit services rated the organization 0 out 4 stars.
“It’s a zero-star organization and you can’t go lower than that,” says Michael Thatcher, Charity Navigator’s CEO told CNN. “They don’t have an independent board of directors, they actually don’t even have a comprehensive board of directors — only three members on the board at this point in time and some of them are family. So one can say, is this representative of an independent board? It’s not.”
According to the CNN report, of the $8.5 million raised in 2014, only $122,000, or less than 2% was used to directly help veterans and their families.
Since the group started in 2010 it has brought in a whopping $29 million in donations.