Not too much new information there, and if anything I think it makes them look worse.
It's been put straight out there that a very large portion of what you consider to be "supporting the cause" goes directly into John's pocket. The simple truth is that hosting events at venues such as National Guard base Grayling is a flat fee, not based off head count. I know because I've been there and spoke with one of the CAPT's that run the place, because I wanted to see about locking the field.
He chalked up over $16k on there to some pretty overinflated numbers, and given that he stated he lost 1/3rd to Indiegogo off that drive alone, and it was found out to be only 12%, it's no surprise that when he was called out on the over $2k of unaccounted for cash he was unable to give another answer. He also states he lost $5k to patches, $5k to a 15 minute video production, and $1.5k in "fees".
I'm not sure if those are numbers that you guys are ok with being given and accepting at face value, but if it is I've got oceanfront property in Arizona I'd like to sell you.
PTSD isn't for sale, and it needs to stop being used as a tactic to raise more money. If you want to flat out donate $5k to John B and when questioned about where exactly that cash went be told he made a 15 minute YouTube video, and you're ok with that...Then I honestly don't know what else we can do on our end to point out this is a bad thing.
The money is poorly used at best, and I sincerely hope all airsofters who give enough of a shit about Veterans in the first place can see through this and stop supporting people that claim they're doing something for the greater good but berate the Combat Veterans that ask straight forward answers and reply in memes.
EDIT: He also states on his website that all donations are tax deductible, but he doesn't even have a non profit set up yet.
EDIT 2: He also states on that page that the remaining 32% of the $19k went directly to support tickets. In other words directly into his pockets.
He doesn't pay the costs of anyone to attend his game. Whether or not you have PTSD you're paying $100 for admission (As a Veteran). Zach has stated on numerous Facebook posts that they've allowed certain people in for free, which again if you want to take that at face value good on you.
Ultimately, it's a program that has direct tie in with his for profit business. You support this cause by donating $150, only $25 of that is going towards whatever overpriced project he's got in mind, while the other $125 will go directly to his wallet. In the case of the large amount of donations to raise over $19k, he's flat out stating he banked 32% of that before even the first puff of smoke or mirror made it's way out.
I'm disgusted that people are willing to look past that and say "It's just a game", yet the game they play is largely in part to honor those who do it every day, and it's them that are getting screwed over in the end. I'll never attend another Blacksheep event in the future, until he drops this campaign, and makes a monetary donation to a legitimate cause that actually puts the greater percentage towards the goal it's striving for.
The easiest way to speak out against this is with your wallets. If Grayling this year gets cancelled due to low player attendance it'd be a serious step in the right direction that Michigan doesn't tolerate taking advantage of Veteran's post war issues in order to help fund a for profit business.
There is absolutely zero personnel on staff that are medically qualified to handle the situation if a Veteran with PTSD snaps trying this "Immersion therapy", and the only way they're going to get the proof they are seeking is to find Veterans that are willing to post their personal medical information out there for the world to see, and basically become a trick monkey for the group to say "Oh look at Mike, he had PTSD and now he plays our games and it's all better!". I can just leave that up to the crowds to decide how many people they'd actively find on that venture.
Blacksheep will sponsor 22 tickets per event. Each participant is eligible at their first Blacksheep event. We have records!
Not sure what "we have records" means, but... ok?
To date this program has raised $19,400 through Blacksheep patches and discounted tickets. Of that $13,199.46 (68%) has gone to support the program ($1,545.74 in fees, $5,000 in patches, $5,000 in production of the video documentary, $1,000 in promotion of the program worldwide, and $653.72 in printing), the remaining 32% has gone to support the 109 tickets purchased.
The wording on this is vague, but my understanding is that subsidized tickets and patches are provided to donors and free tickets are provided to those PTSD sufferers actually participating in the "Challenge" as part of the "Kit Pool."
It's unclear to me whether or not anyone who suffers from PTSD has actually participated in the "PTSD MILSIM Challenge" and received a free ticket. The people who have received "free tickets," at least by my reading of the above, seem to be donors. In which case the tickets they are receiving aren't really "free" since they're paying for them via their donation to the "Challenge."
To be perfectly honest, this whole thing is pretty poorly thought out and put together.
That said, and this is going to be a pretty unpopular opinion, but I've not been convinced that John Bucciarelli and Blacksheep Milsim specifically set out to defraud people. I do agree that the funds collected via the IndieGoGo campaign between February 25 and April 26, 2014 should have been returned to the 84 donors when the campaigned failed to achieve any of its stated goals. I also believe that using PTSD as a marketing tool is ethically questionable.
The unprofessional conduct shown by Blacksheep staff members (as well as a staff member from another national event host) has been simply unbelievable.
I encourage people to read up on this issue, avoid the social media "he said, she said" and come to their own conclusions.
I don't believe that John is actively attempting to defraud anybody, I believe that he honestly thinks what he's doing is helping people with PTSD to a point where he's justified himself to ask others to donate to his "Campaign", or "Challenge" as it were.
The donation of gear, guns, and free admission was an idea I kicked back his way when I attempted to come forward to him with an un-biased opinion. He basically asked me what would I do if I were in this situation, and after I stated first off I wouldn't have done this in the first place I said that I'd comp guys that were a target of this campaign, and with the money received from donations I'd purchase guns and gear for them to use and if they liked the game they could keep it. Obviously I wouldn't be shooting for $500 gats, but something that'd at least get them through the 24 hours, and if they liked it they'd be a for sure return customer to my games, which in the long run would pay for itself.
I mean, we're talking about a guy that charges $25-30 on an "MRE Meal Plan" and the end result is a $0.99 can of Chef Boyardee and a granola bar he purchased in bulk at Costco. It's no surprise that for a guy attempting to "stand up the cause" he's not even willing to eat the admission costs of those that donate, despite the thousands of dollars he'll pull off of everyone else.
Had he just stayed a National Vendor that hosted (somewhat) challenging 24 hour Milsim events, he'd likely have 60-70 more guys coming out to the Grayling event, and that isn't even the National damage that he's done.
As a vendor, I prefer him over Lion Claws 9 times out of 10. As a person, I'm morally disgusted with him.
I'm genuinely curious, did you guys honestly think that all the funds that they were collecting through the 'PTSD Fund' or whatever they called it, were ALL going to fund PTSD Awareness/Causes/etc. and not partially fund the Blacksheep name under the guise of keeping the business and brand itself afloat?
I'm not trying to defend what they did since I agree that a lot of their funds were completely pissed away, (5k for that video trailer they made & 33% lost in website fees...L O L yeah right) but if you actually donated you just HAD to know in the back of your mind that not everything you sent in was gonna go towards the cause you intended. (I'm guessing most of the people up in arms about this didn't lose actual money, they just don't like what he's doing to exploit PTSD/Veterans which is justifiable as it's pretty crappy what they're doing)
TL/DR: Give your money directly to a Mil/LE oriented charity or organization. If you go through a middle man, something is gonna get skimmed off the top.
I think that's another thing that honestly just wasn't thought of, I know by myself at least until about a month ago. Did anyone thing back in 2007 that a Navy Corpsman from Iraq was going to fuck over the Wounded Warrior Program by accepting donations from companies to raffle off? Probably not. So when a retired Army Infantry Major is parading around a campaign to help PTSD awareness, all is well and good and honestly I didn't put much more thought into it. My personal thoughts was if he made it to the National circuit and nobody called him out yet, he's probably legit. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case.
It wasn't until it was point blank asked how much has been raised and where the money went, and those who were asking the questions were brushed off, that I point blank asked John in the Blacksheep Planning Group.
It's unfortunate that in society we have to literally question guys who have spent 20 years in the U.S. Military when they say they want to give back, but it's a truth that I hope everyone takes to heart.
That being said, if anyone feels anything we (The Bastards) have done that is even a hair below acceptable I invite you to stand next to me this December while the registrations/money comes in, and I'll count everything out in front of you.
One thing I absolutely can't stand is lack of transparency when it comes to doing something in the name of charity, more direct, when it comes to Veterans and Military/LE/Fire campaigns.
As to CBQR's point, I don't know how someone could read the PTSD Milsim Challenge information and not get the impression that the funds were going to be used by Blacksheep to host events. It's pretty clear that the funds weren't going to be redistributed into a charity or donated to some outside cause. The overall goal of the "Challenge" was to use airsoft as some sort of immersion therapy and the donated funds were apparently supposed to be used to support those efforts. Consequently, Blacksheep's regular games and their "Challenge" were intertwined. Here's the "research paper" that has been mentioned previously about airsoft as immersion therapy for PTSD.
The original IndieGoGo campaign ran from February 25th to April 26th 2014 and failed to achieve any of its funding goals. The policy of "crowd sourcing" sites is to release the funds to the campaign creator even if the campaign fails to achieve its goals rather than to refund the money to the original donors. This seems pretty shortsighted to me, but that's the way Kickstarter and IndieGoGo work. Funnily enough, I haven't read any complaints from any of the 84 donors to the IndieGoGo campaign some of whom donated substantial amounts. Blacksheep has apparently used those funds to make a video and provide patches and "free" tickets to donors while the rest has gone elsewhere. $5,000 to make a 15 minute video seems a bit much, but things on the financial end haven't been made very clear to anyone outside the organization. Blacksheep has said that these funds are being used in furtherance of the goals of the "Challenge" and have mentioned that they are working to establish a non-profit.
As others have mentioned, the main point of contention seems to be less the fact that Blacksheep took people's money than the fact that they are soliciting donations which largely go to fund their own games (as, they argue, "immersion therapy") under the banner of PTSD awareness/treatment, etc. This, it seems to me, is ethically questionable.
People have to decide for themselves if:
A) John Bucciarelli and Blacksheep are lying and defrauding people. B) John Bucciarelli and Blacksheep are misguided, but acting in good faith. C) John Bucciarelli and Blacksheep are misguided, acting in what they believe to be good faith, but are actually exploiting those with PTSD. D) Some combination of the above. E) "You're way off base, it's the Lizard People."
This entire "controversy" could have been totally avoided had people conducted themselves professionally, been transparent or simply continued to host games with no tie ins to broader social issues.
Last Edit: Mar 11, 2015 9:12:03 GMT -5 by Gimpalong