The Gary Sinise Foundation does some amazing work for our veterans. Focusing primarily on our most severely wounded veterans, the foundation’s programs offer fundraising and support on what can only be considered a massive scale.
One of the foundations’ most admirable programs is the R.I.S.E. program. “Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment” has built 16 “smart homes” for some of our greatest heroes, with another 17 under construction. They’ve also provided home modifications, adaptive vehicles, mobility devices and even a generator for veterans in need.
Unfortunately, in their quest to do good, the foundation has made a serious error in judgement. They’ve decided to build a smart home for Senior Airman (retired) Brian Kolfage.
Kolfage, like all of our wounded veterans, has an amazing story of survival, recovery and strength. Wounded in Iraq in 2004, Brian is a triple amputee who overcame incredible odds. Sadly, that’s where anything admirable about him ends.
Since his retirement, Brian has become a right-wing conspiracy theorist, cyber bully, and all around mean person who has a history of begging for money from his more than 180,000 Facebook followers.
And they respond. In order to obtain a free house from the R.I.S.E. program, Program Director Bill Wagasy explained to me that there can be no debt owed on the property. That, of course, makes perfect sense, as the foundation spends a massive amount of money on a smart house, and they’d hate to see it taken away if something catastrophic were to happen.
Wagasy also explained that there is a certain amount of money, which is undisclosed, allotted for land. In Kolfage’s case, they selected a plot of land that required $100,000 to purchase. While he says they don’t recommend GoFundMe campaigns because they’re taxable, Kolfage ran one anyway, raising more than $16,000 in under a month:
With that kind of crowdfunding ability, you really have to ask yourself:
Is Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E. recipient Senior Airman (retired) Brian Kolfage truly in need?
- According to Pima County, Ariz. public records, Kolfage sold a perfectly good three-bedroom, three-bath home in Tucson in December of 2014 that was built in 2002. The house is 2236 square feet with disability access, a hot tub, fenced yard, vaulted ceilings and mountain views. The house sold for $365,000. Is this really inadequate for a family of three, soon to be four? It’s most definitely a step up from the shade tree or cardboard box thousands of veterans call home.
- Brian has a degree in architecture from the University of Arizona. Surely he can obtain gainful employment and pay for his own dwelling.
- Brian has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to beg for money and get it from his followers, in amounts that exceed what hundreds of vets collect being homeless on the streets.
- Brian runs a website called woundedamericanwarrior.com that spreads conservative propaganda. Alexa ranks it in the top 8,500 websites in the country. Webuka estimates that the more than 9,000 views per day on the site give it a value of $112,000 with almost $4,500 a month in ad revenue.
- Brian also runs a survival gear shop. While no information is available on how much it makes him, his exposure to the kind of people who stock bunkers with what he’s selling is significant.
Again, the Gary Sinise Foundation does amazing work. Most of us have seen the faces of incredible heroes as their dreams of home ownership and the freedom of what the foundation provides becomes a reality.
The question is, will that same gratitude be conveyed to someone who is accustomed to living in comfort and has managed to turn hatred for his government into a lucrative career?
Brian Kolfage isn’t the kind of person who needs charity, but he certainly is willing to accept it.
Aside from financially, it also boggles the mind that something as honorable as the Gary Sinise Foundation would want to be involved with someone like Brian, who is a known conspiracy nut, constantly posts discriminatory material, and has caused unimaginable emotional distress to innocent people because they disagree with him politically.
Right-wing Conspiracy Theorist
Over the past few years, Brian has used his story to garner support and build a huge following on Facebook. His page has little to nothing to do with advocating for wounded veterans other than himself. It is instead a breeding ground for hate, lies and conspiracy theories aimed at the President. While Brian is of course free to speak his mind, much of his content borders on ridiculous.
For example, He is a birther. Not only does Brian believe Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim terrorist, he actually claimed that as a forensic Photoshop specialist he single-handedly proved that the President’s official birth certificate is a forgery:
The President’s birth certificate is of course very real, and corroborating hospital records and birth announcements debunked this bit of fiction years ago.
Kolfage also subscribes to the theories that the Muslim Brotherhood holds cabinet positions in the administration and regularly warns his readers about Obama’s “gun-grabbing” exploits that don’t exist.
Brian has on more than one occasion rallied his supporters to expose the real life information and harass people whose opinions differ from his own:
The worst case of cyber-bullying hasn’t just been an online battle, it has actually landed Kolfage in a Federal Court battle. In a poorly run investigation, Brian determined that a 62-year old woman from Massachusetts was the manager of a Facebook page that “attacked” his family by posting a meme that used an image Brian himself had posted on a public page.
Ultimately, Brian ended up posting this on his page, urging supporters to harass and “expose” a woman who had no idea at the time who he was:
Jan’s personal information is blacked out, but her address, telephone number and contact information for the union she retired from was posted. She received death threats by email, conventional mail and by phone, and has spent more than a year traumatized over the incident.
In short, Brian Kolfage is a horrible human being. You can peruse his Facebook page, “Freedom Daily,” and see just how angry and hateful he truly is. It’s a crying shame, because when Brian focuses on helping other wounded vets, public speaking and telling his inspirational story, he comes across as a decent man.
Don’t let that fool you — he’s not.
Tell Gary Sinise that his foundation’s money is better spent on veterans in need, not people like Kolfage.
You can fill out the contact form for the Gary Sinise Foundation HERE and let them know that while they typically do great work, the decision to further enable the narcissism of someone like Brian Kolfage is a huge mistake.