Kolfage addresses the audience during the 2012 Navy League Sea Service Awards
|Born||September 21, 1982 (age 36)|
|Education||University of Arizona|
|Employer||Davis-Monthan Air Force Base|
|Known for||Most severely wounded airman to survive any war in U.S. history and creator of the GoFundMe for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico|
Brian Kolfage (born September 21, 1982) is a veteran of the United States Air Force. As a triple amputee, he is the most severely wounded airman in history. His injuries resulted in the fastest medevac to the United States from a war zone.
In 2018, Kolfage initiated a $1 billion fundraising campaign for United States President Donald Trump's proposed Mexico–United States barrier on GoFundMe, although these donations were later refused by GoFundMe, who promised that they would be refunded. Bobby Whithorne, a GoFundMe spokesman, referencing Kolfage's promise that donations would be used to fund the wall if the proposed $1 billion was raised, stated that "that did not happen" and "this means all donors will receive a refund."
Kolfage was born in Detroit, Michigan on September 21, 1982, but was raised in Waikiki, Hawaii. He married his wife, Ashley Goetz, on May 28, 2011, and the couple have two children together. Kolfage enrolled in University of Arizona with support from the Pat Tillman Foundation and graduated from the Architecture School in 2014.
He was deployed to Kuwait in 2003 and to Iraq in 2004, where he served in the Air Force Security Forces. Kolfage was injured in Balad, Iraq, on September 11, 2004, when a 107 mm rocket landed 3 feet from his position, and caused the loss of both his legs and his right hand. He received a Purple Heart after his injuries, and recovered in Walter Reed Medical Center until July 2005 and later found a civilian job at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. After his injury he began to speak publicly about his experience and recovery and filmed a campaign ad for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2011. He was invited as Giffords's special guest to President Obama's State of the Union address in 2012.
He has been connected with Facebook pages titled Right Wing News and Fight4FreeSpeech, although Facebook has since shut down Right Wing News. Facebook also shut down Kolfage's Military Grade Coffee business page. Kolfage allegedly created false narrative clickbait social media posts to discredit American politicians. He also reportedly repeatedly created GoFundMe campaigns and used the false narrative stories to draw attention to the campaigns. Through these methods he allegedly gathered a large list of email addresses of people who would be potentially willing to donate to conservative causes. A former staff member, has saved a text message allegedly from Kolfage in which he references stealing or collecting the emails in order to build up his own email distribution.
In December 2018, Kolfage started an attempt to raise $1 billion via GoFundMe for the construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Kolfage said the target figure was achievable, adding "This won't be easy, but it's our duty as citizens". In an email to the Washington Post, Kolfage stated that he began the fundraiser as "political games from both parties" have been holding back funding for the wall. Within three days, over $9 million had been raised.
In January 2019, Kolfage posted a message to the GoFundMe page that he had decided that raising money through a nonprofit would be more successful. A new nonprofit was created and called We Build The Wall Inc. through which Kolfage plans to have segments of the wall privately constructed through negotiations with landowners along the border. GoFundMe, has however issued a statement that it is offering refunds or the ability to opt unit a 501(c)(4) after Kolfage's announcement, as the change in where the donations would go, violated the website's rules.
Concern has been raised about how the money from the GoFundMe will be distributed after the fundraiser has ended. While on the fundraiser Kolfage has stated that he has contacted the Trump administration about donating the money, and citizens can mail money as gifts to the United States, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. He has also cited the 2012 Washington Monument restoration project in which a philanthropist billionaire matched donations to restore the monument after the 2011 East Coast earthquake. It is not clear if the Department of Homeland Security can accept gifts, and if the money is accepted it would still go into a general fund that must be allocated by Congress.
- "The Most Severely Wounded Airman in History: Triple Amputee, Brian Kolfage, Jr". College of Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture, University of Arizona. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
- Simkins, J. D. (2018-10-02). "Power couple: Wife of airman who survived most catastrophic wounds in history vying for cover of Maxim magazine". Military Times. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
- Hess, Abigail (2019-01-11). "GoFundMe that raised $20 million for border wall will return funds". Retrieved 2019-01-12.
- "Brian Kolfage | Gary Sinise". www.garysinisefoundation.org. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
- Burkitt, Bree (December 23, 2018). "Meet the man with Arizona ties who has raised $16M for Trump's border wall". azcentral. Retrieved 2018-12-27.
- Welsh, James (2014-06-21). "I Married a Wounded Soldier". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
- Collins, Ben (December 20, 2018). "Founder of viral fundraiser for Trump's border wall has questionable news past". NBC News. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
- Tom Joyce (October 19, 2018). "Conservative Veteran Banned by Facebook: 'There Was No Real Reason'". LifeZette. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
- Sacks, Brianna (January 10, 2019). ""I Felt Dirty": Former Employees Of The Veteran Crowdfunding Trump's Wall Say He Pushed Fake News To Get Rich". Buzzfeed. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
- Zadrozny, Brandy; Collins, Ben (January 11, 2019). "Behind the viral #GoFundTheWall fundraiser, a rising conservative star and a shadowy email harvesting operation". NBC News. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- Alfaro, Mariana. "Man behind 'Build the Wall' GoFundMe has reportedly made a potentially lucrative contact list thanks to a shadowy email-harvesting operation". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- "Trump supporters angry at his 'retreat' on border wall". BBC Sport. 20 December 2018.
- Flynn, Meagan; Bever, Lindsey (December 21, 2018). "A triple-amputee military vet's GoFundMe has raised more than $13 million for Trump's border wall". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
- Abby Hamblin (December 20, 2018). "GoFundMe campaign to 'fund the wall' blows past $9 million in three days". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- Press, Associated. "$20 million in donations for border wall to be refunded or shifted to non-profit effort". POLITICO. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- Van Sant, Shannon (January 12, 2019). "More Than $20 Million Crowdsourced For Border Wall Will Be Refunded". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- "Wall GoFundMe hits $17 million, but how would US get money?". ABC11 Raleigh-Durham. 2018-12-26. Retrieved 2018-12-27.