A CBSNews investigation uncovered worrying patterns of spending donations by the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity that helps veterans wounded while serving their country.

According to the initial CBS report, Wounded Warrior Project spends only about 60% of its donations on veterans.  Compared to the 91% Fischer House spends on veterans and the 96% spent by the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust this is a shockingly low percentage of donations used for things other than the stated goals of the charity.

In light of the CBSNews investigation and the subsequent publicity and internal investigation, Wounded Warrior Project has fired both its CEO, Steven Nardizzi, and its COO, Al Giordano.

CBS’s initial investigation uncovered shocking increases in spending on “team building” staff meetings as five-star resorts and extravagance on “big parties” after Nardizzi came on board in 2009.

Former employees say spending has skyrocketed since Steven Nardizzi took over as CEO in 2009. Many point to the 2014 annual meeting at a luxury resort in Colorado Springs as typical of his style.

“He rappelled down the side of a building at one of the all hands events. He’s come in on a Segway, he’s come in on a horse.”

About 500 staff members attended the four-day conference in Colorado. The price tag? About $3 million.

“Donors don’t want you to have a $2,500 bar tab. Donors don’t want you to fly every staff member once a year to some five-star resort and whoop it up and call it team building,” said Millette.

Army Staff Sergeant Erick Millette is one of the whistleblowers who came forward about his concerns about the Wounded Warrior Project and the way that donations intended for wounded veterans was being funneled instead into areas that amount, another former employee says, to “fraud, waste, and abuse.”

CBS’s initial report explains:

“Their mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors, but what the public doesn’t see is how they spend their money,” said Army Staff Sergeant Erick Millette.

Millette came home from Iraq in 2006 with a bronze star and a purple heart — along with a traumatic brain injury and PTSD.

Initially, he admired the charity’s work, and participated in its programs. He took a job as a public speaker with Wounded Warrior Project in 2013. But after two years, he quit.

“You’re using our injuries, our darkest days, our hardships, to make money. So you can have these big parties,” he told CBS News.

. . . . “It was extremely extravagant. Dinners and alcohol, and just total accessm” one employee explained. He continued, saying that for a charitable organization that’s serving veterans, the spending on resorts and alcohol is “what the military calls fraud waste and abuse.”

Watch the initial CBS News report:

This report was met with outrage among veterans and those who donated to the charity.

This past Thursday, Wounded Warrior Project fired two executives and promise reorganization and oversight to correct the problems within the charity.

CBS News reports:

The two top executives of Wounded Warrior Project were fired Thursday by the board of directors.

. . . . Wounded Warrior Project’s Chief Executive Officer, Steven Nardizzi, and Chief Operating Officer, Al Giordano, were fired after a meeting Thursday afternoon in New York.

According to CBS News, the organization is looking at “retired senior military officers who are being considered to take over leadership of the organization.”


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