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Veterans Charity Shuts Down Amid Questions

Posted: 6:20 PM, May 07, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-11 12:20:01-04
Veterans Charity Shuts Down Amid Questions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A Nashville-based charity is out of business. It was a charity that was supposed to be raising money to help injured veterans.

But NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered very little, if any, money actually went to those vets.

The group, For Our Country said it was going to help veterans through music.

But one of the charity's largest contributors told NewsChannel 5 Investigates on Thursday that they had cut ties with the group after they couldn't get answers about how their money was being spent.

We also wanted to know and we went straight to the man running the group for answers.

NewsChannel 5 caught up with Rogers Masson as he walked from his apartment in West Nashville.

"Been trying to reach you. You haven't been returning my calls," we said.

Masson turned and, without saying a word, quickly headed back to his apartment.

For weeks, we had tried to talk to Masson about For Our Country, the non-profit organization the music producer started three years ago.

With help from country stars like Chuck Wicks, who made a promotional video for For Our County, Masson recruited vets to share their personal stories, promising to turn them into songs, record them, produce albums, and head out on a national tour.

It was supposedly done to raise money for wounded soldiers and vets with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.

In that promotional video, Wicks looks in the camera and said, "Myself and other top country artists are putting together a benefit album with a very special message. Please visit For Our Country.org to submit your song, lyrics, letter or story."

Shortly after we started asking questions, For Our Country's website, Facebook page and Twitter account all suddenly vanished.

A lawyer for Masson told us the group was being dissolved.

And we found Masson wasn't talking. Again, as he made his way back to his apartment, we asked, "What happened to all of the money that went to the group?"

We got no answer.

Despite raising $60,000, For Our Country -- as far as we can tell -- produced no songs, no album, and no tour.

But its activities, however, raised lots of questions.

First, there was the claim about CMT, the country music cable network. For Our Country told potential corporate donors that CMT had agreed to produce a 30-minute documentary about the group and promised product placement and ads in exchange for donations.

But the folks at CMT's Nashville headquarters insist that "CMT is in no way affiliated with For Our Country" and "any statement by them about being in business with CMT is false."

And guitar manufacturer Fender told NewsChannel 5 Investigates the same thing, saying, "We had and have no relationship with For Our Country." Yet, Fender's name and logo appeared as an "official sponsor" of the group until Fender discovered this and insisted it be removed.

And the man For Our Country listed as their controller and chief financial officer told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that he never had anything to do with the organization.

As we followed Masson back to his apartment, trying to get information about For Our Country, we said, "You made a lot of claims about this group. A lot of them didn't check out."

Still, Masson said nothing.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Bob Regan, "Have you ever heard of any songs they produced for veterans?"

Regan replied, "No."

Regan knows all about helping veterans through music. He and Don Goodman are both Grammy-nominated songwriters who run Operation Song, which in the last two and a half years has helped veterans channel their stories into nearly 200 songs. Some are recorded by professional musicians while others are featured on the group's website.

He said the focus of Operation Song is to provide musical therapy for vets and doing anything more than that, like For Our Country claimed it could do, he said, is really like promising the moon.

"I've been doing this 30 years and Don's been doing it 40, so I know the odds of anything happening to generate income and we're going to get stars to record the songs and take it on the road," Regan explained.

And veterans, he added. especially those injured in war, deserve more.

"I hate anybody to rip off veterans or take money that should be going to veterans," Regan stated.

So what happened to For Our Country's plans to make music and raise money to help veterans?

The man behind it all, we found, isn't saying.

As Rogers Masson unlocked his apartment door and hastily made his way inside, we asked, "What do you say to all of the veterans that you said you were going to try to help?"

The door shut before we got an answer.

A manager for Chuck Wicks, who appears in that promotional spot, told us Wicks really didn't know much about the group when he agreed to do the video, but said he did it because he thought it would help veterans.

So where did all the money go?

Rogers Masson told the IRS he spent nearly $9,000 on rent and utilities for the group's office, which we found was also Masson's apartment.

He also told the IRS he competed in a series of triathlons to raise awareness about the group, but nowhere in the tax records could we find anything going to veterans, as he had claimed would happen.

If you'd like more information about Operation Song or would like to donate to that group, the organization that is helping veterans through music, here's a link to their website: http://www.operationsong.org/