Putting the Elks’ Pledge Into Action

In the days and weeks following the Wounded Warrior media coverage, I read many articles criticizing and defending the group. Many people were eager to offer alternative veterans groups for people to support. They suggested the American Legion, the DAV, the VFW, and the Marine Corps League. No one mentioned the Elks. That’s something we need to change.

by Mary Morgan, ENVSC Director

Many of you may have been following the news coverage of the Wounded Warrior Project. The organization recently came under scrutiny because of its spending. Reports came out about excessive spending on employee retreats, high CEO pay and overhead costs of 40 percent.

Founded in 2003, the Wounded Warrior Project’s mission is to assist wounded veterans with recovery and reintegration into society. As the largest and fastest-growing veterans’ charity in the country, the Wounded Warrior Project has provided vital assistance to many injured veterans over the past 13 years. And running an effective nonprofit does require overhead spending. The situation is not as simple as many have made it out to be, and Elks Lodges who’ve had success partnering with local Wounded Warrior groups shouldn’t feel the need to stop working together to serve veterans because of this.

It does make for an interesting comparison though. By contrast, the Elks have been serving veterans for more than a hundred years. In 2015-16, the Elks National Foundation, which funds veterans grant projects and the Elks National Veterans Service Commission, spent only 7.4 percent on supporting services. This is well below the Better Business Bureau’s standard for charity accountability, which is 35 percent or less on supporting services. (Learn more about this in the ENF’s Annual Report.)

In the days and weeks following the Wounded Warrior media coverage, I read many articles criticizing and defending the group. Many people were eager to offer alternative veterans groups for people to support. They suggested the American Legion, the DAV, the VFW, and the Marine Corps League. No one mentioned the Elks. That’s something we need to change.

The Elks National Veterans Service Commission was officially founded in 1946, and Elks were serving veterans long before that. Today, Elks use Lodge grants to run fitness and recovery groups for veterans, support military families in need and hold recreational therapy programs for wounded veterans. More than 600 Elks serve in VA facilities and veterans hospitals across the country as Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service Representatives. The Veterans Leather Program provides free wheelchair gloves and leather therapy kits for thousands of veterans each year. And the Welcome Home initiative is reaching out to some of our most vulnerable veterans: those who are homeless.

Recently, we posted a photo to social media of a Lodge providing free haircuts to veterans in need. It was one of many updates we receive each week of Elks engaged in service. People liked and shared the photo, and hopefully a few more learned about what the Elks do for veterans. One person commented underneath the photo, “These guys don’t just talk.” It struck me as the perfect way to sum up the photo, and much of the Elk’s history serving veterans. Elks don’t just talk. They act. Let’s keep acting, and people will notice.

Author: Elks National Veterans Service Commission Blog

Elks' stories of serving our nation's veterans.

4 thoughts on “Putting the Elks’ Pledge Into Action”

  1. This $is Mary Ann Michaels, Chairperson for Veteran Programs Fountain Hills Elk’s 2846. We just finished 5 events during March to honor Women Veteran’s & History month. We held 5 Wednesday events–4 at local restaurants & 1 @ our Lodge. We raised $2500.00 for: Veteran’s First (a Woman Vet program for homeless women) U.S. Vet’s (their 78 unit facility that has 3 beds for women & Victory Place (a HUD all Vet community, that has on site services for Vet’s with PTSD. During our 2015 to 2016 Veteran Charity program, we donated over $4,000 worth of clothing and bikes to MANA House, Victory Place & AZ Home for Veteran’s. We received a grant from the Elk’s for $2500 that went towards purchasing 6 new laptops for returning Vet’s going back to school & computer training, $800 towards Victory Place Café monthly coffee cost–they serve 47,000 meals annually to homeless Vet’s in Phoenix, & furnished needed clothing, bingo prizes, snack, batteries, and a special dinner to the infirmed Vet’s in AZ State Veteran’s Home. I can furnish photo’s and do a write up for you if you would like to share our good story from our Lodge here in Fountain Hills, AZ we are a small Lodge 120 members but we sure do accomplish a lot.


    1. Hello, I am the ER at the Keene, NH Lodge 927. I would be very interested in any information you can send to me. We are deeply involved with Vet. help in the state of New Hampshire and are always looking for different ways to expand our services to Veterans. Thank you! Yours in Elkdom, Richard Chayer dichayer@yahoo.com.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. March was Women Veteran’s History month. I organized with 4 of our local restaurants to hold a “Happy Hour 4 A Cause” offering attendee’s happy hour pricing on appetizers and drinks. The 5th event was held at our Lodge, in hopes of providing exposure for our Elk’s Lodge & membership. I had flyer’s made (will send you a copy) and asked businesses to display in their windows. I utilized my personal Facebook page to promote the events each week, and did a follow up right after each event, showing the winners of our raffles also sent photo’s of the winners to our local news paper. We selected 3 Organizations that offer services to Women Vet’s (there is a real lack of services for the gals) hopefully it will get resolved soon. The raffle of prizes we always had 4 from local businesses generated a good per centage of the money we collected, then we had 3 donation baskets for those that wanted to make a direct donation to a specific Organization. We actually raise $2659.00 We concentrated on our Phoenix Homeless Women Veteran’s and I believe a lot of supportive people didn’t realize we had women vet’s on the street.

        We did a major collection from October thru December 31st. I was specific that we were only collecting new or nearly new men’s clothing: jeans, tennis shoes, sweaters, jackets, gloves, hats, new underwear & men bikes (yes it gets cold in Phoenix) I found that many other organizations are collecting for our Vet’s and I didn’t want to overlap or become a Goodwill drop off. We made 11 deliveries to MANA House & Victory Place it was very successful.

        I think getting out of the Lodge (ours is small) and bringing the message out into the community at different venues is a two-fer: one it supports a good cause and expands the visibility of the Elk’s.


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