When Did Veterans Become A 'Special Interest Group' ?

Gold Hill, NC July 25, 2011 - I've been a fan of drive-in restaurants since the very first time my Mom and Dad took me for my first visit to an A&W. It always seemed a great thing to load everybody into the car, drive around to see the sights for a while, and top off a nice ride with an ice cream treat or a hamburger and fries. It was a sad time for me when America started losing A&W franchises.

In the 1980's Sonic Restaurants started in Oklahoma City and during the past 30 years they've really struggled to bring back the car hop atmosphere to a new generation of kids and cars. The food is good, the prices are reasonable, and the service is especially enjoyable at nearly every location I've ever visited - and I suspect I've probably eaten at 200 of their locations since I've started on my Ride Around America. In fact, I generally try to stop and get something from their value menu at least every other day .... that is, until today.

I'm proud to tell everyone I'm a military veteran. Looking back through my family tree I find that my line hasn't missed a single generation of having a son in uniform since the American Revolution. It's a proud heritage. Those 236 years of service to the nation represent devotion to duty, respect for our Constitution, and honor to the ideals and people that have made us a great nation. Yup, I'm a flag waving Patriot and I don't care who knows it.

And that's why I won't be back to a Sonic Drive-In Restaurant any time soon. You see, I was on their corporate web site today and with dismay I learned that they officially classify veterans organizations as 'Special Interest Groups' and will deny any application made to their corporate Community Giving programs based upon that determination.

To be fair, they also won't consider any group that is based outside of the State of Oklahoma either, so if you live south of the Red River yer outta luck too, Partner! I might understand their reluctance to sponsor sporting events, especially golf tournaments as they so gleefully enumerate as part of their list of unworthy groups. And I really do side with them as they catagorically deny the thought of any donation to a politician or a political party - regardless of what the Supreme Court encourages them to do. But I can't see WHY they so proudly state they will help an animal rights issue, but we veterans are considered to be unworthy. Is being a member of a group of men and women that have offered their lives to the nation a reason to disqualify their service organizations from receiving a charitable grant?

Really, what have veterans, and veterans groups, done to piss off the Board of Directors of Sonic Restaurants? Did we not spend enough time away from our families when the nation called? Did we not leave the required number of comrades upon the worlds battlefields, or in the depth of its' oceans? Have our wounded warriors not suffered enough indignity to qualify for even a simple "Thank You" from these sanctimonious elitists? WHEN did it become socially permissible to ignore the myriad sacrifices given by our active duty military EVERY DAY of the year? WHEN did it become politically correct to deny any semblence of respect and appreciation to those that stepped forward when the nation called in the dark days when our country needed men and women of courage and determination?

So far in my Ride Around America I've ridden over 41,000 miles of American highways. I still have about 130,000 miles to go before the project is done. As much as I enjoy the service, the atmosphere, and the quality of the food at these restaurants . . . from now on I'll stop at Subway, Wendy's, and especially at Golden Corral where they have a corporate policy that reveres veterans. NO, I'm not asking that any corporation revere me and my fellow veterans. I'm just peeved that somebody on a corporate board has the audacity to call veterans organizations nothing more than a 'Special Interest Group.' It's outrageous and should be noted by everyone that ever served, and by those that care for what we did.

Check it out for yourself - http://www.sonicdrivein.com/business/giving/corporate.jsp and then notice their 'Contact' form only solicits comments about your latest experience at one of their stores. So, if you are as peeved about this as I am, write them:

Nancy L. Robertson
Senior Vice President of Communications
300 Johnny Bench Drive
Oklahoma City, OK 73104

If you see me, NC license plate TOUR US, riding around your state and you want to share a burger and fries, please, let's meet at the old A&W - and if there isn't one in town, let's try Wendy's and not forget the Frosty!


©2011 Lee Wonnacott, Gold Hill,NC