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Friday, February 8, 2013

Has honor and integrity taken a back seat? You be the judge


When I started my mission to Honor Them over 2 years ago, it was a personal one. While I admittedly was still trying to find my niche in how to accomplish this, I knew one thing above all else, Honor would be the prime focus. While I may have begun on Twitter, I soon branched out into Facebook and began this blog. My mission may have begun as a personal one, but not too long after I had people joining me in my endeavors. After some time it didn’t just become important to me, but became a part of who I am. That is why not a day will go by that I will not Honor the sacrifice paid by so many. This brings me to the purpose of this post.
There are some who sadly have chosen to use the death of our heroes for their own ill gotten gains. It’s really become an epidemic in today’s society. As unbelievable as it may seem, there are those who are worse offenders than others. Please, before you read on, I ask you all to consider the fact that I don’t normally call out any company and/or organization. In fact, I’ve never done so. I stick to my mission and ensure the families of the fallen are taken into consideration in all my efforts. Respect for them and all that they've endured is very important to me. However, there is one company who as I understand it, hasn’t done this in the past and my fear is they are repeating the same patterns.
Below you will see some information along with screen shots (please forgive the haziness of the images as I blew them up for ease of reading), which points to a pattern of behavior. It, in my opinion, not only appears to be dis-honorable, but calls into question this company’s true intentions. I’ve chosen to post this on my blog because the owner of this company either ignores or deletes anyone’s comments (on Facebook) who attempt to make an inquiry into the questionable activity. Furthermore, this company usually blocks those inquiring immediately after. So, I ask you to look at the information I’ve provided and draw your own conclusion.
First, as a matter of background, I contacted the publicist for the family of fallen US Navy SEAL, Lt. Michael Murphy and this is what she had to say:

As Publicist for the Family of LT Michael Murphy I was approached by John Stiener, the owner of Infidel USA on July 23, 2011 proposing a Murph The Protector t-shirt with ALL proceeds benefitting Michael’s Foundation.  By all accounts the shirt was a hit, but I would never know exactly because I was never given the sales figures as to what exactly was sold as promised.  After endless emails, text messages and phone calls asking for his payment to the Foundation, of which there had been only a few, I threatened to sue Infidel USA.  That is when John’s Mom called and intervened on his behalf.  She felt that it was unfair that 100% of the proceeds go to that Foundation and that John should be entitled to some.  I explained to her that the agreement had been otherwise and that the memorial tee was bringing him new business. I further explained that it was an agreement that he presented. Also, I reminded her that he was promoting the tee the whole time as benefiting Michael’s Foundation when in fact only a few payments had been made. A year and a half later NO accounting of sales had been made available to me and as it appears from this that John was using all the Murph The Protector profits to expand his company. This is by his own admission in communications with me.  Regardless of John’s promises to the foundation, John’s mom made the following agreement with me. She asked that she be given one week and she would provide me with the amount of shirts sold and the rest of the money owed to the Foundation.  In addition would I allow one last print run of the shirt before I terminated the agreement.  I told her that I would not make a decision on the last print run until the monies were paid and the accounting of all sales was provided to me.  Approximately one week later payment was made for what I was told was the sale figures of all the Murph t-shirts. However, I have no way of knowing this to be accurate or not as I was not provided with an accounting of the sales as promised.  John and his Mom requested that they be allowed to go ahead with one final print run of the shirt and with that we would part ways.  I agreed, with the understanding that the accounting of sales would be forthcoming. As I previously mentioned this still has not happened.   John only paid the foundation for part of this final print run.  I of course sent him countless emails and text messages as well as tried to call and collect the money, but to no avail.  I was forced to reimburse Michael’s Foundation with my own money as I felt responsible for making such a poor business decision. 

You may ask why the above information is relevant. Well, I ask you to read on, as its relevance will soon become clear. 
 On February 7, 2013 Infidel USA came out with a new t-shirt. See the Facebook post introducing this shirt by clicking on this LINK (If for some reason that link becomes invalid because the post has been deleted. I will update this post with a screen shot of the link). The t-shirt depicted the name of US Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle who was recently killed. The company states in their post as well as on their website that 100% of the proceeds with benefit Craft International and FITCO Cares. On the surface this seems like a wonderful idea, and one that I normally would be backing 100%. However, because I am so adamantly against anyone (not including the families) profiting from someone else's death, I simply cannot stand behind an organization which has proven in the past to take money under the pretense of funds going to an organization and then not following through with that promise. Case in point, the below screen shots.

SCREEN SHOT A: In this screen shot, the publicist for the family of Lt. Michael Murphy clarifies any misleading comments made by Infidel USA by explaining that Infidel USA “did NOT give all the money to Michael’s Foundation as promised.” And further she asks a few questions, one of them being, will her comment remain. Please see the next screen shot.

SCREEN SHOT B: As you’ll see here, minutes later not only is her comment removed, but someone else asks if what she wrote is true. Please see the next screen shot.

SCREEN SHOT C: As you can see here, Infidel USA has responded with the comment “Of course not.” However, regardless of their prompt reply, you will see in SCREENSHOT D (below) that Infidel USA deleted the question, as well as their response. Also, it appears they deleted one which states they are working with FITCO and Craft International.  
SCREEN SHOT D: Comments referencing any question of misuse of funds have been deleted. You can tell this by the new comments appearing below where other’s comments once were.    
All of this may not seem like too much cause for concern in some of your opinions. However, I was sent the below screen shot (SCREEN SHOT E) which raises all sorts of red flags for me personally. As someone who supports our military and their families I make it a habit to only give to companies who are truly helping the families of our fallen heroes. Please note the placement of this comment. It was only on the page for a short time and promptly deleted once the publicist for the Murphy family left her comment. In this comment by Infidel USA they claim to have multiple veterans that work for their company. They also claim to have “athletes that worked with Chris in Ramadi.” At which point Infidel USA goes onto explain that those who worked with Chris came to them with the idea to do something. 

SCREEN SHOT E
If what he states is true, then why delete it? Or, as a matter of interest, why delete so many other comments as well? If Infidel USA truly has veterans who worked along side Chris Kyle in Ramadi working for him who asked him to take on this project, then why remove it once question is raised? Further, why would Infidel USA block people who have only asked questions? After all, they are only questions. If in fact Infidel USA’s only motivation is to help the families of the fallen, why not simply address the issues and rebuild their company's reputation? 
These are all things which trouble me and make me wonder where the funds for this shirt will really go. However, to be fair, I must state, I have not personally approached the company. I have chosen not to do so because of the numerous people that have approached them to only receive no response and then be blocked. I further would like to state that I am merely a concerned citizen and also 100% civilian. I do what I do because I choose to and while I normally would 'vet' a charity/organization before I decide to endorse them, sadly I don’t feel confident that any correspondence by me asking questions to Infidel USA would be met with anything other than ignoring and blocking me. 
My only concern is that the family of Chris Kyle is taken care of and this isn't going to be a repeat of what transpired with the Murph t-shirt. Other than that, I have no skin in the game, so to speak. The main purpose of my post is to ask everyone to truly consider the organization they are giving their money to before they do so. Just because someone claims to be on the up and up, doesn’t always mean that they are. This could be said for countless companies or organizations.
Once again, and in closing, this blog post contains what I have witnessed and have been able to ascertain from the events unfolding on a public social networking site. My statements are my own and contain my opinion on a matter that is near and dear to my heart. I do not know without 100% certainty whether or not the allegations against Infidel USA are factual because as best I can tell they refuse to respond to them. Perhaps in the future they will work with the companies they state they support to ensure all funds go where they are promised. I also hope that Infidel USA will make good on their promises made to the Murphy Foundation. If they choose not to do either of these things, I am left with no other alternative but to question their motivations and intentions between making products of this nature and selling them under the guise of "giving back" to charities. 


26 comments:

  1. Thank you "Honor Them" for continuing to respect the rights of those who can no longer speak for themselves. You have demonstrated the highest possible ethical standards and commitment to those who have given their lives in the Military. Amanda, and all the rest of the staff at "Honor Them" stand tall! God Bess you for your honesty and continued support and ethics. Semper Fi!

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  2. I have a lot of respect for you Amanda! To share your thoughts without fear of being crucified for speaking your mind (especially when guys like John Steiner exist) is very admirable. Thank you VERY much for sharing all of the above. It is very interesting that you would bring this to light because I remember reading a post made by M(r)s. Wolfert last year, and how she had publicly addressed this same matter before the Facebook post was deleted by Facebook (likely because of Infidel USA, and their guilty conscience). You are amazing for what you do, and I hope that you will continue telling the truth while continuing to "Honor Them" every day of the year! Thank you for all that you do :)

    *If you haven't noticed... Infidel USA has disabled their "Posts by Others" option on their Facebook page. Seems that they are attempting to police the questions, but more importantly... the truth.

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  3. Thank You Amanda, I have been following your tweets as well as SEAL OF HONOR, Although I am not in any service I do follow some, Does the page Seal Of Honor have anything to do with this or is it a separate entity? I feel as though the only thing a human can leave this earth with, is their integrity, Hoping I am not following PAGES AND TWITTERS That don't stand for the same principles. For ever grateful for all that you do. THANK YOU. Packleader66

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  4. Thank you Amanda. I am going to do a little "PR" on my site now. I will "unfriend" and whatever else I can do to tell people about this company. This was an absolutely fabulous piece of work!!! :-)

    KRIS BENNETT

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  5. Amanda, I belong to your facebook "Honor Them" and many times have expressed my gratitude for what you do. I am not a family member of a fallen hero, but I am an American citizen. I have family in the military and pray you never post one of their photos. I agree with you...to make a personal profit from such sacrifice is beyond despicable. I can tolerate a lot of things but lying is not one of them! Everyone who bought one of these shirts should do something to let them know we won't stand for it!

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  6. Sandra Holley LaMannaFebruary 9, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    Amanda, I have bought 3 shirts from Infindel one being Murph the protector, I will unfriend this site and will no longer do business with them. I also will repost this for my friends and will be letting John know exactly what I think of him and his business, what a low life scum sucker he is! Thank you Kris Bennett for bringing this to my attention.

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  7. Nicely done Amanda, I will repost your blog on my page as well. As always keep up the awesome work :-)

    Brigid

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  8. I also have screen shots of them deleting my posts and blocking me. This company is a shame and should be shutdown for what they do.

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  9. Amanda, thank you for your vigilance in protecting the families of the fallen.

    Folks . . Some Businesses are taking advantage. Please donate/buy only Chris Kyle gear directly endorsed by his family. Many companies don't have permission to use his likeness. Check SOFREP.com and our FB page for updates on approved organizations. Please share this info. Let's cover down on this and make sure our friends don't get taken for a ride.

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  10. There is still some lingering questions I have. Is this actually true? Have you seen his books? How can you be absolutely sure he didn't give the profits to the Murphy family? If there was a contract, did it specify that Infidel would need to show proof? This bashing is kinda silly without proof and any misdealing with the Murphy family. That said, if it's true, then this company should be shut down ASAP. If it's not true, should we be bashing a company who was simply trying to do the right thing by our fallen heroes.

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    1. Dear "Anonymous"

      I'm not sure why you don't feel comfortable leaving your name, however, nothing I stated was inaccurate. And, Infidel USA has been given many opportunities by various parties to answer questions regarding this. He does not take that chance however and instead ignores and blocks anyone from further correspondence. Perhaps if Infidel USA has "books" to show, then they SHOULD show them to the Murphy Foundation as originally agreed upon. As you'll see in the statement above, that still has yet to happen. I suggest you take up your concerns with Infidel USA. As they are the ones who have made it impossible to get any questions answered.

      Amanda

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    2. Honor Them, I think what you've done so far has been to follow the highest ethical course of action with extreme prejudice. While it's not your responsibility to pursue these boneheads, as a responsible "citizen," it is our responsibility to bring to light nefarious activity. How would we feel if someone came forth after a scam and publicly stated, "Yeah, I knew, but it wasn't happening to me, so I didn't say anything."? It's through accountability that we keep our resources properly channeled, as in the case for these families and not the "alleged" liars.

      You've done what you're supposed to. Thank you.

      Most importantly, you are well maintaining your focus on what you originally set out to do. Thank you mostly for that.

      Erik Esquerra (I don't have a profile in this pub)

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    3. Dear Erik,

      Thank you for your comments and thoughts. And I appreciate you leaving your name. I'm not skeptical of all "anonymous" commentors. But I do become weary when someone leaves a comment "anonymously" and it's filled with leading statements. I for one think if someone is going to call things into question (See "Anonymous" comment dated February 10, 2013 at 3:03 PM) then they should be courageous enough to stand behind their opinions and post their name. Just as I have. :)

      Amanda

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  11. Are you the "Honor Them" I have had the privilege of mobbing with for the last five years or so (If so, Hi.. it's Mini!!) As to the situation at hand, all you can do is call out bad behaviour, or perceived bad behaviour, when you see it. Others will do their own investigations and draw their own conclusions. I have to say the fact that they will not allow a public discussion about where the funds are going certainly leads one to believe they are less than honest. Anyway, Keep up the good work. Miniisabadass (aka Dawn)

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    1. Dear Mini,

      My apologies, as I don't believe I've ever had the pleasure of meeting you. I began my mission to Honor Them on June 30, 2010. However, I'm very glad to make your acquaintance now, and thank you for your comment. I agree. It's important that the public is allowed to draw their own conclusions.

      Thank you for stopping by,
      Amanda

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  12. I grew up an Army brat and from the bottom of my soul, I thank you for honoring our fallen military.
    Your page, I believe, is also a solemn reminder that freedom is never without cost.
    Once again, thank you.

    Amanda Bennett

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  13. Dear Sir,

    Many thanks for bringing this to light. As someone who purchased a Murph tshirt I am beyond disgusted. I feel as though it is incumbent upon me to do two things at this time ....make a donation to the foundation for the amount that I paid for the tshirt and to return any infidel apparel I may otherwise own. I cannot in good conscience support any person or business who exploits the tragic death of men that define words like heroism and integrity.

    At your earliest convenience if you could provide me with a link to donate to the foundation directly or an address to mail a check I would appreciate it. God bless the memory of men like Michael Murphy and Chris Kyle.

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  14. Sorry that above post was by me don't know why it was anonymous

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  15. I believe this and re-posted as they still owe me for merchandise from over a year ago. What I did receive took 8 weeks to get!

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  16. I've never ordered anything from that them and probably never will - the person that runs that company is a jackass.

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  17. I am so proud of the work you do on this Facebook page and the fact that you followed up on infidel. As a concerned citizen myself I appreciate people who look out for the rest of us just like our soldiers do. It is said that we have our own infidels that start their own company and try to take advantage of our fallen soldiers. I truly appreciate what you have done. God bless

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  18. I am a facebook fallower and if this is my old mobsters buddy this is MOGMAN aka the bully account u made for me. U know I have been a fan sense unstarted keep on keepin on love ya

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  19. FYI Thirteen Stripes clothing seems to be a spinoff of the same Infidel USA company.

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  20. Thanks for calling out Infidel USA. John Steiner is a crook. My family has had a lot of trouble when buying from them... I wish I found this sooner! I am going to burn my Infidel apparel today because no one should know that company ever existed.

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    1. You're welcome. They just recently deleted their FB page, deleted their instagram posts and now he's trying to start a new business. Take a look at: https://www.facebook.com/tak9usa

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    2. Interesting. Thanks for the link.

      "Thank you for allowing Capital One to assist you regarding your recent dispute with PAYPAL *INFIDEL billed to your account on 12/xx/2013. At this time a credit has been issued to your account in the amount of $58.00. We have also charged the amount back to the merchant."

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