Guest Author - Gary King
I asked Ron Clements, founder and owner of Lone Cone Outfitters why the IRS would not grant him non-profit status for his Operation "You Rolled-Thanks" Program where he provided recreation and fun for OIF troops. Here is his response:
The IRS ruling/reason was "I had a profit motive!" My response was "Excuse me, I had almost 100 vets & family members out here, did not charge them one penny, did not make any "bank deposits," went through my savings and even took out a loan!"
The IRS, many times apathethic and usually not in support of our troops, by their insensitive and lack of intelligence ruling, caused them to shut down the program in November 2003. Ron was irate at the ruling by the IRS, and rightly so. But, with his wife's condition getting progressively worse and some other very large disappointments, Ron retreated for the 1st time in his life!
An example of one of several disappointments:
Ron booked an Outfitter Booth at the Hunting "Buckarama" Outdoor Show in Atlanta, Georgia in July 2003. Georgia Outdoor News sports magazine had done a special article on his Veterans Program and even created a Special "Hall of Fame" for Sportsment that have done/accomplished worthy things. Ron was the first inductee for creating and operating the Operation You Rolled-Thanks Veterans Program. This had great pre-show publicity in the Georgia area.
Ron posted all this in his booth, along with advertisement of a drawing for a FREE 7-day trip to his Ranch in Colorado for an elk hunt or trout fishing trip. Those that donated $20 (at that time IRS approved as tax deductible) would fill out a slip, put it in the barrel with their $20 donation and on the last day of the show a winner and two alternates would be drawn. All proceeds would go directly toward the Veterans Program.
During the course of the show, many, many veterans came to his booth with congratulations on the program he was sponsoring. When his booth assistants would ask them to contribute and participate in the chance for the free trip/hunt, plus help us "Welcome Home" our troops from Iraq, they would hesitate, stall, and perhaps mumble something like, "Er, I'll catch you later!"
Guess our troops here in America do not have the same kind of spirit and REAL SUPPORT for those in Iraq that we do. They will go and give of themselves to support America and Freedom, and help people in Iraq, but they will turn out and turn their back on ONE OF THEIR OWN! Any veteran who visited that booth and played that kind of game is not welcome on my sites and I do not consider them a comrade. Perhaps they could not donate because they wanted to spend it on drinks and to BOAST about how much of a hero they are here in America! You guys are disgusting! Get real and get off your high horse, right now! My hope is that those veterans who did not contribute were not Iowa veterans!
The published attendance at the Outdoor Show was approximately 75,000 in the four days! The total number that put 20 bucks in the barrel for a chance at the trip and with all those proceeds going to Operation You Rolled-Thanks, a grand total of seventeen (17) donated for a grand total of $340.
Needless to say, Ron was and is still appalled at the hypocrisy in our society (and so am I), but more so in our veterans here in America. Hundreds of them walked through the show and were either too tight or just did not really give a you know what for those in Iraq! And then they might turn around and say how poor the America appreciation of their service is. They did they very same thing and should be ashamed of themselves. These very same guys might have to go to Iraq and stand up and be counted to defend the people of Iraq and to fight for their own lives, and they will probably do it with great valor and honor. And many of them will return and wonder why the American people do not show more appreciation for what they have given and sacrificed.
Wise up, guys, you are doing the same thing they are and if you want the American people to honor and respect you, then you must learn to do the same thing for those now serving in Iraq. Sure, $20 is a lot of money, and if you really cannot afford that much, then put what you can in the barrel because believe me, that is a good cause. And another thing, but for the grace of God, you could be one of those in Iraq right now, fighting for your life and for freedom. THINK, THINK, THINK!
Ron had a hard time believing this could happen any other time, so he regrouped and tried again at the next "Buckarama" in Perry, Georgia in August 2003. Same approach, except he reduced the donation amount for the free Hunt/Fish Trip to $5. Again, all proceeds would go to the Veterans Program! Greater response? Yes! But, 79 contributed, which netted $395. Sixty-two more people donated a total of $55 more than in the first show!
This show was close to Warner Robbins AB - Fort Benning with many military/retirees/vets in attendance.
Later, while spending over $12,000 at Sam's Club and Walmart for food and supplies for the program in June through October 2003, Ron appealed to Walmart Corporate for a contribution to keep the program going. After 2 months he got a call, that he could come pick up a check for $50 they had approved for the Veterans Program. Ron responded and politely told the caller to fold the check so the corners were very pointed, give it to the Corporate Exec that approved it with advice on where to stick it)!
Now you may know why I do not shop at Sam's Club. And I will probably quit shopping at Walmart until they get their act together and PROVE that they support our troops in Iraq. The Walmart employees in all their stores are great to deal with but their Executives need to get their act together and quit being so stingy when it comes to supporting our troops.
I urge all veterans reading this to pass the word to all military veterans in the United States and in Iraq to perhaps BOYCOTT WALMART because Walmart needs to be taught a lesson in humanity. If you are not a veteran and you want to really help the troops in Iraq and here at home, BOYCOTT WALMART until they change their policies and take a closer look at what they could do to people like Ron, whose real interest is to give our troops in Iraq and other veterans something they can value and remember.
A request for help with full explanation of the Program was sent to many notable people, including Toby Keith, Charlie Daniels, Bill Anderson, Kenny Rogers, etc. Guess what? Not a single response. I was REALLY surprised when I heard that Charlie Daniels did not respond because I have an article about him on my WATCHDOG site. Well, that article will be removed and I will not support any of these individuals who claim to support our troops but seem to lack interest when it comes to helping out or putting money on the line. And people like Charlie Daniels, Kenny Rogers and others should be ashamed of themselves for actions like this. People like us put them in business and then they turn around and kick us in the face. Maybe those of us who helped put them in business can help take them out of business by not buying their music, not dealing with them, and not having anything to do with them.
Ron could go on and on, he said, but he told me the "Starch" was taken out of this Ole Fighter Pilots drawers! He decided he would continue to do what he could afford to do and give up trying to get help! I asked him if he could get funds to help run the program, and his answer was, "H--l Yes! It really upsets me to only be able to offer a "Welcome Home" at a reduced rate!"
You know what I think? I think most celebrities, organizations, businesses, and especially Washington and the IRS need to get their act together in this nation. They are SO READY to accept what we give them, in money, votes, etc., but so RELUCTANT to donate money and funds to help someone who can really do some good. The IRS is one PRIME EXAMPLE of APATHY IN ACTION and they have very little sentiment or feelings for our troops in Iraq or elsewhere. Their only real interest seems to be toward how much money they can pocket or what is in it for me? I wonder how many people at the IRS actually served in the military and if they did, you would never know it because they HAVE NO HEART!
I urge all people reading this article to sit up and take note and please get involved in helping Ron Clements in his quest to give our troops something AT NO COST! How much are these troops giving to us? They are doing what YOU do not have to do. They are doing the dirty work! They are cleaning up so that everything is peachy clean here in America and they are giving you the right and freedom to live as you are. And the big coins you are bringing in each day are granted to you partially because of our troops, who are sacrificing much, much more than you will ever have to sacrifice. So, for God's sake, can't you even take time to donate here or there to help them out? If you cannot give $20, then give what you can and let Ron and others like him know that you are serious about supporting our troops.
If you want to read some comments from veterans and their dependents on how much good that program did while it was running, contact me or Ron and we will be glad to send them to you.
The ball game has started! The game has begun! The ball is in your court! The next step is up to you! Let us all show Ron how much we support what he is doing. Although I really feel I cannot afford it, I am sending Ron $20 myself to put toward this program. I will ask him to hang on to it until the rest arrives. And that rest MUST COME from you. Let us all give our troops in Iraq and in OIF a welcome home they will never forget. They are putting their lives on the line every day and we read of those every day who will not return. Let their death's not be in vain. Let us show those troops, the people of Iraq and the world that we mean business when we say we support our troops!
Maybe the IRS will not support our troops or give any consideration to Ron Clements and his Lone Cone Outfitters organization for this Troop Support Program, let us not put ourselves in that same class. Let us instead, adopt a policy of showing our support through a donation to this program.
You can contact Ron via his http://www.loneconeoutfitters.com site or you can contact me at my personal email at email@example.com with your comments and/or donations and I will see that Ron gets them. But do not make them out to me.