This is the continuation of an in-depth, multi-post expose on what the Department of Defense Inspector General found distasteful about America Supports You.mil operations.
DOD/IG learns that American Supports You.mil truly is the Greatest SHOW on Earth when
inspectors learn that the clowns at ASY actually paid entertainers above and beyond room and board to perform at various events. Wonder how much Ringling Brothers got paid to endorse ASY and support our troops?
To read the introduction and earlier post on this topic go to these LINKS:
- AmericaSupportsYou.mil Survives Investigation by the Pentagon
- Link to Actual DOD/IG Report on America Supports You Irregularities
- Specific Findings of the America Supports You IG Report
- DOD Inspector General Finds that America Supports You Solicited Support from Corporations in Violation of Pentagon Conduct and Ethics Rules
SOLICITING SUPPORT FROM CELEBRITIES IN VIOLATION OF PENTAGON ETHICS RULES
The Pentagon Public Relations Firm, Susan Davis International [SDI], on behalf of America Supports You.mil, also solicited support from celebrities to help put on special events such as the Freedom Walk, Memorial Day parade, Military Appreciation Month, and concerts, while gaining media attention to “brand” [sell] the ASY program name.
In its Defense contract with DoD, SDI provided a list of more than 40 celebrities for which they had contact information and discussed the importance of using celebrities’ “star-presence” at ASY events.
Specifically, the DoD Contract proposal stated:
The Celebrity Council will be a key component of the public awareness outreach campaign. They will add star-presence to America Supports You events, will be asked to make note of America Supports You in their own public appearances, and can be asked to participate in public service announcements as well.
The names of our celebrity participants will be included in campaign materials as well. SDI is well-positioned to develop this council, adding additional resources to the list of celebrities already supporting Department of Defense initiatives. For the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Foundation, we have built a list of some forty celebrities representing all aspects of sports and entertainment, and are incorporating them in the Foundation’s campaign in a variety of ways including the development of a nationwide radio PSA [public service announcement] campaign…
SDI implemented its proposal for the ASY program by soliciting celebrity shout-outs to the troops. The ASY Web site contains more than 100 celebrity shout-outs, including shout-outs on location at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., when the World Wrestling Entertainment performed, or at the Pentagon when the Jenny Boyle Band performed.
However, most of these videos were shot in places other the national capitol area. Many of the videos were taken at the Oscars in Los Angeles, California, where people such as John Singleton, Rick Gonsalez, Jessica Biel, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ryan Gossling, Celine Dion, and Mickey Rooney recorded their shout-outs to the troops.
Siedah Garrett and Michael Buble recorded their shout-outs at the Grammys. Musin Muhammad, Rex Grossman, and Peyton Manning all recorded shout-outs at the Super Bowl.
Shout-outs were also recorded by Pat Sajak, Vanna White, and Alex Trebek on their game show sets.
According to a DoD Public Affairs official, the Oscars and these other events were not normally covered by DoD [media] before [creation of] the ASY program.
CELEBRITIES DID NOT SUPPORT OUR TROOPS ENOUGH TO DONATE THEIR TIME BUT CHARGED FEES
In its Defense contract, SDI stated that it would “invite celebrities to donate their time.” However, DoD/IG found that most celebrities charged DoD fees for their appearance or performance. Gary Sinise [a favorite of Veterans Organizations] and his Lt. Dan Band received a fee to perform at a Military Appreciation Month concert in May 2006 and DoD paid transportation, meals, lodging, and other miscellaneous expenses.
Clint Black charged a service fee to perform at the 2005 Freedom Walk and DoD paid additional expenses of $6,743.
How many troops going TDY or on never ending deployments receive travel expense vouchers worth $6,743 bucks?
If the Pentagon can afford to pay out of our Defense Budget several thousand a performer for the honor of supporting our troops, DoD can afford to pay deploying troops travel and related expenses of $6,743 buck. Our troops lives are worth more than any celebrity in patriotic terms. However, patriotism is only profitable for War Profiteers.
Chely Wright received a performance salary for performing at the Intrepid Concert in May 2005. DoD paid more than $165,000 in total for the Intrepid Concert. The Harlem Gospel Choir charged an engagement fee for performing at the 2007 Freedom Walk and DoD also paid transportation expenses.
By comparison, the United Services Organization (USO), which puts on shows for the troops stationed within the war zone, does not pay celebrity entertainers any service fees [nor do volunteer entertainers expect them] and reimburses only travel and food costs. Hiring a [corporate] contractor to solicit support from celebrities and paying entertainer fees for concerts held stateside to gain media attention for the ASY program is questionable and is not focused on the primary ASY mission [of reminding troops that America Supports them].
In summary, the expensive fees paid by America Supports You.mil diverted much needed donations and tax dollars away from Veteran and Troop support organizations like the USO, Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Aid Funds established long, long, before 9/11 or ASY was created out of political and propaganda motivation.
I strongly recommend that if your group or organization seriously Supports Our Troops get the ASY logo off your website or literature, and put the USO one on.
Economic realities are going to force Pentagon bean counters to cut wasteful Defense Spending everywhere it can, plus weapons systems have traditionally taken priority over people.
When DOD budget planners begin to slash unneccessary defense spending, America Supports Bush.mil would be a Great place to Start cutting down to zero tax dollars.
“TO THOSE AMERICANS WHO SINCERELY SUPPORT OUR TROOPS WITHOUT GETTING PAID TO DO SO THANK YOU – AMERICA FOR SUPPORTING US TROOPS! HAVE A GREAT VETERANS’ TODAY DAY – TODAY AND EVERY DAY.” Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired