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Target Stores vs. Vietnam Veterans

Netlore Archive: Is it true that Target Corp. insulted former military personnel by refusing to make a donation to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall?

Description: Email rumor
Circulating since: Sep. 2002
Status: Mixed / Misleading (see details below)

Email text contributed by M. Coombe, Sep. 5, 2002:

Subject: Vietnam Veterans

Vietnam Veterans Not Worthy Of Target's Help?
By Dick Forrey

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.

Analysis: To authenticate this rumor I contacted the customer service department of the Target Corporation, where a representative confirmed that the above incident did happen, but was the result of miscommunication, not a blanket refusal on the company's part to support Vietnam Veterans.

The specific request was turned down, Target says, because company policy prohibits individual stores from handing out donations except in the form of gift cards. Requests for cash grants must go through corporate headquarters.

"Unfortunately," a company statement explains, "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. We are truly sorry for the manner in which this was handled and the resulting confusion that has taken place." (See also: updated statement from Target, Dec. 2003)

According to a Veterans of Foreign Wars press release, Target has agreed to be a corporate sponsor of the 2003 tour of The Wall that Heals, a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Later variants: What began as an exaggerated account of a real incident grows more and more false as additional claims and comments are anonymously added to the message:

  • In February 2003 (six months after the message first began circulating) a version appeared containing the addendum "Also, TARGET STORES will not donate to the Marines for Toys For Tots either!" I couldn't find any information to substantiate this claim 3 indeed, historically Target stores have participated in the Toys for Tots program, though it appears the decision whether or not to do so is made on an individual, store-by-store basis.
  • In March 2003 yet another variant appeared in which the sentence "They only donate to the areas of arts, social actions and education" was changed to read, "We only donate to the areas of the arts, social actions, gay and lesbian causes, and education." Like the previous allegation about Toys for Tots, the phrase "gay and lesbian causes" was inserted into the message — by someone other than its original author — for no other purpose than to incite further outrage in its intended audience.
  • At approximately the same time (March 2003), a version appeared combining into one message all of the above charges plus unrelated allegations to the effect that the auto parts retailer Pep Boys has summarily fired all military reserve and National Guard employees called to active duty.
  • And, lastly, in a France-bashing April 2003 revision, the false claim "TARGET IS FRENCH-OWNED — WHAT WOULD YOU EXPECT?" was appended to the existing text. (Target Corporation, comprising the Target, Marshall Field's and Mervyn's department store chains, is a U.S.-based company headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.)

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Sources and further reading:

Statement from Target Corporation
Updated statement released December 2003

Statement from Veterans of Foreign Wars
Press release dated 6 December 2002

Last updated: 10/24/11

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