Are Charities Shortchanging Veterans?

People donate millions each year for wounded soldiers like Eric Edmundson and their families. But today Congress said too little of the money gets to vets, CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson reports.

"A lot of the groups are able to make themselves look good and appear as if most of the money is going to charitable programs when, in fact, that is not the case at all," said Daniel Borochoff of the American Institute of Philanthropy.

A new watchdog report rates 27 veterans' charities - and gives more than half "D's" or "F's." That includes big names like the Blinded Veterans Association, which got a "D," the Disabled American Vets, also awarded a "D," and Paralyzed Veterans of America, which was given an "F."

Robert Friend heads the American Veterans Coalition, which gets an "F." It didn't give a penny of what it raised to veterans in 2003, and hasn't done much better since.

But the group's fundraisers? They pocketed more than $800,000, and Rep. Chris Shays, R-Ct., called it "B.S."

"I think it's a rip-off to the public and I think you're in business just to make money," Shays said.

And Robert Friend, of the American Veterans Coalition, said: "Unless our numbers can start to prove otherwise, then I would agree with you."

Another "F" goes to "Help Hospitalized Veterans," which gives craft kits for injured soldiers, but keeps most of what it raises for expenses.

According to tax forms, the group's head, Roger Chapin, gets more than $400,000 in salary and benefits. His wife pulls in six figures, too.

When Congress tried to subpoena Chapin for the hearing, even U.S. Marshals couldn't find him.

"For the last week, Mr. Chapin has gone into hiding," Rep. Henry Waxman said.

Couric & Co. blog: Giving 'Til It Hurts
The father of Eric Edmundson, who was wounded on patrol by a roadside bomb, today got the chance to see some of the charity tax forms.

"The first thing that goes through my mind when I read this type of thing … is anger," Ed Edmundson said.

Not all charities flunked out. A-pluses went to Fisher House Foundation and Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

How they spend money not only impacts donors, but all taxpayers. The groups get billions of dollars in tax breaks and government grants - which is why Congress is talking about coming up with new requirements, so when you give, you really know how your money is spent.
  • Sharyl Attkisson On Twitter»

    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.

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