Date Added: Nov. 4, 2002
That this chain letter is borne of misunderstanding is undeniable, but who is to blame? Alas, the jury is still out on that one, but there is no mistake that this chain letter loses validity the longer and more widely it circulates.
Vietnam Veterans Not Worthy Of Target's Help?
We asked our local Target store to be a sponsor of the Wall during our spring event. We received back a reply that Veterans do not meet their area of giving. They only donate to area of arts, social actions and education's. If the Vietnam Veterans Memorial does not meet those areas something is wrong at Target stores.
I E-mailed the corporation and they said the same thing.
I will not be buying anything at Target Stores again. If the Vietnam Veteran does not meet their area of giving then why should Vietnam Veterans spend their hard earned money there?
Please pass this only to as many people as you know. Maybe Target and other business will get the message.
Dick Forrey represents the Howard County (Indiana) Vietnam Veterans organization. In March, 2002, Forrey approached an employee at the local Target store and asked for a monetary contribution to bring the "Traveling Wall," a mobile half-scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washing D.C., to his area. What happened after that remains a case of "he said, they said."
Daniel Cleland, Customer Service Team Leader for Target, told BreakTheChain.org in 2002 that Target is dedicated to community service, but like most companies, has policies and procedures that must be followed. He explained that Mr. Forrey's frustrations were caused by miscommunication and a failure to observe established guidelines.
"In March of 2002, a veteran approached one of our stores seeking a $100 donation for a display of the "moving wall" in his area. Target does support events in the communities in which our stores are located. While each store determines which events to sponsor, any contribution is limited and is made in the form of a gift card. The stores are not able to give cash contributions to any organization. Stores are also able to donate volunteer hours to community events and projects.
"Our corporate giving program that does incorporate cash donations is handled through a process called grants. Unfortunately, the veteran and his organization were not provided the proper information to facilitate consideration of a grant from either the store or our corporate office. The initial response of the team member at the store and the reply from our corporate office are inconsistent with the respectful manner in which we want all of our guests to be treated. We are truly sorry for this oversight and the resulting confusion that has taken place.
"We accept all applications for grants from January 1 to September 30 of each calendar year. Any guest can request a grants application brochure at their local store, called "Grant Guidelines." Veterans programs may be considered for grants if the subject matter falls into one of our three general areas of giving: education, arts and family violence prevention."
At that time, Mr. Forrey remained unconvinced. He told BreakTheChain.org that he attempted to apply for a community grant, but was again told that his organization did not fit the "three general areas of giving:"
"They finally send me a e-mail trying to explain the same thing they said to start with except that we could apply for a grant. I then ask for a grant application and was given the same answer. We as veterans don't meet their requirements for donating. Right back to what I was told to start with. I don't care if anyone else wants to spend money with Target but I sure won't."
In 2004, Aimee Sands, another spokesperson for Target told BreakTheChain.org that this rumor is not going away. "We've recently seen an increase in inquiries related to the email. New variations appear often..." In a public statement, the company points out that Mr. Forrey has contacted the company and apologized for the life this letter has taken:
"Since 2002, Target has been the victim of a misleading e-mail campaign. This e-mail campaign grossly misrepresents our support of veterans and our soldiers. In fact, the author of the original e-mail recently contacted Target to express his regret for sending the initial e-mail in 2002 and to share his concern about the false information being attributed to him. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the Internet and e-mail communication, the original e-mail has been repeatedly and inaccurately modified and perpetuated by unknown writers."
Target was a major corporate sponsor for the "Wall That Heals" 2003 tour, as well as the World War II Memorial and the American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services, along with local veteran and military organizations.
But this one is not going away. Virtually every chain letter mutates as it circulates, but its almost frightening the degree to which this one has been altered. As it passes from inbox to inbox, Mr. Forrey's little bit of Armchair Activism has picked up virtually every anti-military accusation du jour:
Later versions also drop Forrey's name, opening the door for many cases of False Attribution Syndrome, wherein someone becomes mistakenly associated with the letter simply because he or she forwarded it. Before you forward anything, ask yourself if you're prepared to deal with the consequences if people mistake you for the letter's author.
Target has been the target of "don't shop here" chain letters before. The 2001 Holiday season spawned a chain accusing Target of fleecing its customers through an unfair (and allegedly illegal) return policy.
No matter how you feel about Target, e-mail is a terrible tool to spread the word. A chain letter can be edited by anyone who receives and forwards it. Comments added often blend into the original, making it extremely difficult to separate fact from fiction. If a chain letter does not include detailed information about the author, his or her intended audience and a link to a reliable source (such as a web site) to verify the e-mail's legitimacy and currency, assume it is doctored or outdated. Break this chain!
References: Target: Military and Veteran Support, VFW Statement