In 2018, the organization gave away $13.6 million in grants to other organizations. About 40 percent of the organizations donations in 2014 were spent on its overhead, or about $124 million, according to the charity-rating group Charity Navigator. As donations increased, Wounded Warrior Project executives began using data to measure staff productivity. "He rappelled down the side of a building at one of the all hands events. Once the allegations were brought to our attention, we moved quickly, said the chairman of the board, Anthony Odierno, a retired Army captain who was wounded in Iraq and was helped by the Wounded Warrior Project during its early years. Today, the charity has 22 locations offering programs to help veterans readjust to society, attend school, find work and participate in athletics. You've successfully subscribed to this newsletter! The problem is the horns effect, one of the many thinking errors that are a consequence of how our brains are structured. Legal Statement. Mr. Longoria said he was offered money in exchange for signing a nondisclosure agreement, but refused. Perpetuating the myth that the worth of a nonprofit organization boils down to what it spends on overhead is simply indefensible. The Fisher House Foundation runs 84 houses around the world, located near VA hospitals and military installations. Mar 10, 2016 Wounded Warrior Project executives fired in spending scandal. 3. Millette, 41, who still lives in Jacksonville, Florida, where Wounded Warrior Project is headquartered, told Military.com he stands by all the claims he made about the organization -- $2,500 bar tabs and other prodigal spending at staff-only team-building events, a permissive "good old boys" atmosphere among leadership, and a tendency to push certain badly wounded veterans into the spotlight again and again for what appeared to be promotional purposes rather than for their benefit and well-being. While the most obvious shortcomings were the physical conditions of the hospital housing for the soldiers peeling paint, crumbling walls, mold and rats the more damning problem was an understaffed medical system overseen by a dysfunctional bureaucracy. One 2013 commercial, "Sacrifices," featured footage of a veteran with severe traumatic brain injury struggling to walk assisted and to enter a car, and of another vet with body-encompassing burn injuries reaching for his prosthetic ears to put them on. Staying at a lavish hotel at the beach here in Jacksonville, and requiring staff that lives in the area to stay at the hotel is not team building," he told CBS News. The crisis this week centers on nonprofit Wounded Warrior Project and its response to news reports critical of how the organization that helps wounded U.S. veterans spends the money it gets in . Grants to veterans'. What we consider before using anonymous sources. Mr. Chick, who was fired in 2012 after a dispute with his supervisor, said he saw the Wounded Warrior Project help hundreds of veterans. Within months, Wounded Warrior Project's two top executives -- CEO Steve Nardizzi and COO Al Giordano -- had been fired, and the organization itself was the subject of a congressional inquiry. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. The organization fired Mr. Chick later the same day for insubordination. Celebrity endorsements from the likes of Trace Adkins and Jimmy Buffett. There were charges of spending too much on expenses (e.g., fund-raising, travel, and  Skip to content Log In About 40 percent of the organizations donations in 2014 were spent on its overhead, or about $124 million, according to the charity-rating group Charity Navigator. Retro Report has a staff of 13 journalists and 10 contributors led by Kyra Darnton, a former 60 Minutes producer. Have they proved reliable in the past? The organization also conducts copious surveys and focus groups among warriors, peer veterans' organizations and others in the military community. "Obviously, we're trying to regain trust with the warriors, first and foremost," Linnington told Military.com earlier this year. While WWP's portrayal of veterans has never stripped them of their dignity, some ad campaigns in the early 2010s emphasized images of wounded warriors in the context of caregivers and included interviews with vets discussing daily struggles and needs that went unmet. From so much bad came some good, as the military medical health care system was reorganized. In fiscal year 2013, the Wounded Warriors Foundation took in $234 million in donations and dedicated 80 percent of that amount to programs for wounded veterans, according to tax records. And it has become a brand name, its logo emblazoned on sneakers, paper towel packs and television commercials that run dozens of times. Mr. Giordano tried to refute the news media accounts, Mr. Kane said, and explained that the executives silence had been recommended by a public relations firm as a way to defuse criticism. But some employees assert that the productivity goals were set so high that they eroded program quality. Its a mind-set that keeps the sector small and dooms efforts from the start. The ousted Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of the Wounded Warrior Project are finding relief in a new independent report on the allegations against the military charity . The metrics were intended to improve efficiency and help fund-raising. Part of the organizations drive for growth has been a tough stance toward workers considered unproductive or disloyal. Find Wounded Warrior Project shirts, headwear and other WWP merchandise at WWPShop.org Why do the misdeeds of one nonprofit cause mistrust of all nonprofits? "Going to a nice fancy restaurant is not team building. Ideally, though, the ratio should be higher. With Linnington at the helm, he said, WWP inspires confidence and appears to be working diligently to meet the real needs of its veterans population. In January both The New York Times and CBS News reported that the Wounded Warrior Project, which raised more than $372 million in 2015, had spent millions on travel, dinners, entertainment and lavish staff meetings, like one at the five-star Broadmoor hotel in Colorado, where Mr. Nardizzi made his entrance by rappelling from a tower. Wounded Warrior Project FAQs 1. The Wounded Warrior Project spent more than $34 million on fund-raising in 2014, according to tax records. Dan Shannon of the Army, a father of three, who had served in Iraq, and, on Nov. 13, 2004, took a direct hit from an AK-47. "We wrap our arms around those that want to help veterans now, versus looking to protect our brand at every inch and ounce of measure," he said. Millette, the former WWP staff member who publicly blew the whistle on the organization, said his decision to speak out came at great personal cost. The Wounded Warrior Project is a legitimate multimillion-dollar nonprofit organization with nationwide recognition that helps wounded, ill and injured veterans. His marriage fell apart as the result of the pressure, he said; he received personal threats. Can we corroborate the information? The Wounded Warrior Project is working to rebuild trust with its donors and veterans. A major donor to the Wounded Warrior Project veterans' charity called Thursday for the nonprofit's CEO's to resign in light of allegations of lavish spending on staff meetings, according to . The charity came under fire after an earlier CBS News investigation in January revealed large amounts of spending on administration, meetings, and travel. Mr. Chick said he refused, but was ordered by his boss to write an email recommending the firing. But as donations poured in, many former employees say the group became wasteful. -- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at email@example.com. Borochoff also said, however, that despite the public scrutiny, Wounded Warrior Project has always had better business practices than many groups in the space, even some with a good reputation in the community. The organization began producing inspirational ads featuring wounded veterans fighting to recover. The 270 Wounded Warriors competing in a variety of sports from June 19-28 at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia, come from every branch of military service. Parade participants representing The Wounded Warriors Project carry the American flag for the Veteran's Day, November 11, 2012 in New York. Besides devastating both donors and wounded veterans, this news could undercut public support for the nonprofit sector as a whole. Wounded Warrior Project officials are firing half of their executives, closing nine offices and redirecting millions in spending to mental health care programs and partnerships as part of an. Wounded Warrior Project's Top Execs Fired After Spending Scandal Wounded Warrior Project Denies Claims of Waste, Lavish Spending Wounded Warrior Project Accused of Wasting Donor Money. It contributes millions to smaller veterans groups. But he acknowledged that was likely a function of WWP's phenomenally rapid growth and expansion. Religion and Technology Should Unite for the Greater Good, The 25 Defining Works of the Black Renaissance. Copyright 2023 Military.com. CBS News' investigation into the Wounded Warrior Project's spending on veterans has sparked heated debate online. Under the Charity Watch rating system, Wounded Warrior Project has a modest C+, up from a C in 2015, said Daniel Borochoff, the accountability organization's president. Recently, a social movement called Effective Altruism has been pushing the nonprofit sector to become more transparent and accountable. Other respected charities . 2023 FOX News Network, LLC. "Wounded Warrior Project helped me reclaim my life," one reads, over a photo of single-amputee wounded veteran Sean Karpf, smiling proudly. First: donations to Wounded Warriors fell by $70 million from 2015 to 2016. John Melia, founder of the Wounded Warrior Project, addressing the Wounded and Injured Veterans Summit in Auburn, Ala., in 2006. If that money goes away, its not clear these groups can make it on their own., After Complaints on Wounded Warrior Project, Pressure From Donors, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/12/us/after-complaints-on-wounded-warrior-project-pressure-from-donors.html. Eighteen former employees many of them wounded veterans themselves said they had been fired for seemingly minor missteps or perceived insubordination. Sept. 30, 2013 As this week's Retro Report video explains, the biggest scandal in recent times involving the care of wounded American troops was actually worsened because medicine on the. Among those who say WWP has regained their trust is Erick Millette, a medically retired Army staff sergeant who worked for the organization as a full-time public speaker and representative in the organization's "Warriors Speak" program from 2013 to 2015. Wounded Warrior Project rocked by fundraising scandal Wounded Warrior Project probed for lavish spending while vets suffer The U.S. Attorney's Office in Indiana has brought charges. But, he says, he doesn't regret what he did; he still believes his assessment of WWP at the time was accurate and his intervention necessary. The councils mission includes defending charity spending on overhead and executive salaries, its website says. So we've tried to paint service as a good thing and, I think if you look at the exceptional nature of the young people that are joining the military today, we're seeing a shift now in a higher propensity to serve, I think, over the last year or two.". On March 14, 2016, CBS This Morning published an article titled, "Wounded Warrior Project chair on recovery from spending scandal." For more information, please see the CBS This Morning article. To best effectuate these changes and help restore trust in the organization among all of the constituencies WWP serves, the Board determined the organization would benefit from new leadership, and WWP CEO Steve Nardizzi and COO Al Giordano are no longer with the organization, the statementsaid. For fiscal year 2015, Wounded Warrior reported a 92.9 percent. Magazines, Digital Since its inception in 2003 as a basement operation handing out backpacks to wounded veterans, the charity has evolved into a fund-raising giant, taking in more than $372 million in 2015 largely through small donations from people over 65. The organization has yet to recover fully from a hemorrhage that saw fundraising drop from a peak of $373 million in 2015 to just $211 million in 2017. There are fresh concerns that public support for ongoing military assistance may be waning. Re Helping Veterans Recover, Spending Lavishly on Itself (front page, Jan. 28): I was saddened to read of the wasteful spending at the Wounded Warrior Project. We knew VVA had done pioneering work on Agent Orange, so we created a collaborative grant to pair them with TAPS to start gathering data on [toxic exposure] and to help ensure trans-generational knowledge transfer from the Vietnam-era generation of veterans to today's post-9/11 generation.". See a recent article in the New York Times and a blog post from GuideStar CEO Jacob Herald. "And secondly, with the American people who support our warriors.". Veterans participate in a Soldier Ride on Jan. 8 in Marathon, Fla. The videos are typically 10 to 12 minutes long. Steve Nardizzi, the chief executive of the Wounded Warrior Project, speaking at the 2010 Soldier Ride at Macys in Herald Square, Manhattan. And on Tuesday, it started a program to provide care for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, two of the most common injuries for veterans of recent wars. The Wounded Warrior Fund,. SVA leaders joined WWP at the White House in April for the latter organization's 12th annual warrior ride. A spokeswoman for the charity said it fired those people because of poor performance or ethical breaches, and that each of them was given the opportunity to address their work problems. But newly released numbers for fiscal 2018 show a bounce in the right direction, up 16% to $246 million. About 500 staff members attended the four-day conference in Colorado, which CBS News reported cost about $3 million. "That report also made clear that the Wounded Warrior Project had made some positive steps to regain the public's trust. After Mr. Kanes email to other donors, he said he got a call from Mr. Giordano. Since 2009, the group raised nearly $1 billion. By the time the board met Thursday to dismiss the two men, contributions were down and it had in hand an internal investigation that convinced it that the top leadership had to go. Dinners and alcoholjust total excess." His report slammed the organization for not being transparent with donors about tens of millions that had been placed in reserve and not spent; and for "excessive" amounts of money spent on travel, fundraising and staff activities. On Tuesday, CBS News ran a story about the Wounded Warrior Project, claiming to have interviewed over 40 former employees who stated that spending was out of control at the organization. Millette is now best known as a whistleblower who went on the record to decry what he saw as WWP's lavish spending and interest in nurturing its public image, rather than providing meaningful support to its constituents. Ask anyone with a personal stake in the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), the organization founded in 2003 to provide programs and services for injured U.S. military personnel. Recently, however, they have been accused of being a scam and donating an insignificant portion of their funds to their declared cause. Today, The New York Times released a damning report on the renowned . "Donors would be unhappy that so much of their money wasn't being used given the plight of veterans," he said. Since then, however, the rate of investment has grown substantially. WWP has also pressed forward in its role as a legislative advocate, recently mounting a campaign to expand an adaptive housing benefit available to veterans -- legislation named after longtime WWP staff member Ryan Kules. There was no one there to tell us what was going on or how we were going to get through this.. Veterans organizations in the United States often reflect the era in which they were created: After World War I, they resembled fraternal orders. A current ad campaign, "I am Living Proof," featured in a number of bold bus-stop ads near WWP's Washington, D.C., headquarters, shows wounded vets standing in a posture of confidence. The Wounded Warrior Project began in 2003 as a basement nonprofit organization run by Mr. Melia, who was wounded in a helicopter crash off Somalia. Her comment was, Where have you been? And I said, What do you mean where have I been? The veterans collected donations at those events. He said you better do this or you are going to look disloyal to the organization, Mr. Chick said. Under Mr. Nardizzis direction, it has modeled itself on for-profit corporations, with a focus on data, scalable products, quarterly numbers and branding. "Veterans, our lives, literally, depend on it.". One employee was quoted as calling it "extremely extravagant. Tracy Keil worries that will leave her. The Wounded Warrior Project cuts a different profile. Linnington made clear that he wants to see the organization continue its climb out of a fundraising valley but said he is more concerned about fulfilling the mission than making up numbers. That evening is emblematic of the polished and well-financed image cultivated by the Wounded Warrior Project, the countrys largest and fastest-growing veterans charity. In an interview at the organizations four-story headquarters in a palm-lined office park in Jacksonville, Fla., Mr. Nardizzi, 45, said spending on fund-raising and other expenses not directly related to veterans programs has enabled the Wounded Warrior Project to grow faster and serve more people. It got under my skin, started eating at me, he said. Will we ever be 380 again? New York Times Reporter Paid $51 Million for Ryan Seacrest's LA . The charity grew to offer more services in more locations, but in the process, former employees said, it became wasteful, spending millions on travel, food, drinks and team-building trips for staff members. While Military.com was unable to review survey findings in full, Plenzler said the 2018 study also found participants overwhelmingly considered WWP to be effective in two areas on which organizational leaders have chosen to focus more sharply: advocacy for caregiver legislation (93%), and advocacy on legislation regarding veterans' medical conditions related to burn pit exposure on deployments (86%). Compared with service members who served in Vietnam, troops sustaining combat wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan had roughly twice the chance of surviving. Wounded Warrior Project's Board Fires Top Two Executives Give this article By Dave Philipps March 10, 2016 The Wounded Warrior Project ousted its top two executives Thursday after. William Chick, a former supervisor, spent five years with the Wounded Warrior Project. The country's most prominent veteran's . You had the same few guys who loved going to free events.. Last week, a major donor to the Wounded Warrior Project veterans charity called for the nonprofits CEO to resign in light of allegations of lavish spending on staff meetings, CBS News reported. "I was always grateful for that mission," Linnington said. Right now we are in a position where we can still meet our obligations, he said. The Kanes also initiated an online petition calling for a public audit of the Wounded Warrior Project in addition to canceling the next golf tournament Tee-off for a Cause was to hold to benefit the Project. Now, they're doing that follow-up, and they have the capacity to deal with the mental health issues," he said. " When you are considering whether to give, let your heart be open to stories but also ask how representative those stories are of actual clients or results. The programs it did create for veterans often served more as showpieces for marketing than as efforts to address the actual needs of veterans. The nonprofit sector provides social services that governments cant or wont, including providing food, shelter and free higher education to the poor. I loved it, the former Marine sniper said. I would fly to New York for less than a day to report to my supervisor.. Fred and Dianne Kane, the parents of two Iraq War veterans, have donated $325,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project since 2009 through their personal charity, Tee-off for a Cause. Another time a woman called to donate part of her sons life insurance after he was killed in Afghanistan, he said. In particular, the organization expressed outrage that CBS. Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau, via Associated Press. How do we help them? The Wounded Warrior Project, WWP, is a not-for-profit charity that aims to assist wounded veterans with their needs. Some of its own employees have criticized it, too. The reporter and at least one editor know the identity of the source. I read with disgust your slanted article on the Wounded Warrior Project. Once a child came by the office to donate a piggy bank. The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is the largest veteran's charity in the United States. One current employee said her last-minute ticket cost $7,000. It slowly had less focus on veterans and more on raising money and protecting the organization, he said. 7. As someone who lives with post-traumatic stress, Millette said he is aware of the wealth of good Wounded Warrior Project could do with its resources in that space. Already, more than $6.9 million in grants has been awarded for this fiscal year. 76% OF WARRIORS EXPERIENCED FEWER PTSD SYMPTOMS after receiving treatment through Warrior Care Network 2 "It's the best use of donor dollars to ensure we are providing programs and services to our warriors and families at the highest quality," he said. Linnington said the organization is also making a point to be part of conversations involving the "Big Six" -- the congressionally chartered veterans service organizations including American Legion and VFW -- and to be present for regular convenings with the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs. You do not reflect the sentiments of the more than 80,000 wounded soldiers we have helped, focusing instead on a few malcontents. In all those areas, Linnington said Wounded Warrior Project is making strides. WWP also put up strong numbers in financial health, with controlled spending on administrative expenses and a healthy reserve of capital, which speaks to the organization's ability to sustain itself over time. Wounded Warrior Project says 80% of their money is spent on programs for veterans. "Four years ago, I would have told you to keep your money in your pocket and take it somewhere else," he said. In 2012, after he had been working for the charity about a year, he had to have his right arm amputated because of lingering damage from Iraq. Such unjustified distrust of high-quality nonprofits could undermine our society. All Rights Reserved. The New York Times' recent investigation into the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) has sent rumbles throughout through the philanthropy community. Many Americans gave their trust and donated their money to this nonprofitto the tune of more than $372 million in 2015. The Wounded Warrior Project is in hot water. By the time I left, we were just throwing guys in jobs to check off a box and hit the numbers.. More than 6 out of 10 (64.2%) WWP-registered Alumni say they. Since Wounded Warrior Project chief executive Steven Nardizzi and chief operating officer Al Giordano were fired by the board on Thursday, donations to the group have fallen, The New York Times reports. When wounded troops began returning from Iraq in 2003, Mr. Melia remembered how he had arrived in a stateside hospital with only his thin hospital gown, and began visiting military hospitals to distribute backpacks stuffed with socks, CD players, toothpaste and other items. As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. A week after the top executives of the Wounded Warrior Project were fired amid accusations of lavish spending, an influential senator on a committee that oversees nonprofit organizations is. Another response would be for our candidates, who are battling about which countries to send troops to, to have a public conversation about the price our troops will pay and how they will be helped. "These are groups that just get together over a pizza and a soda, to talk about the issues that are affecting them and their families, and look for ways to support each other.". (Linnington said more than 72% of WWP spending currently goes toward programs.). Out in Los Angeles, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva sent out a warning over the weekend. While that percentage, which includes administrative expenses and marketing costs, is not as much as for some groups, it is far more than for many veterans charities, including the Semper Fi Fund, a wounded-veterans group that spent about 8 percent of donations on overhead. As he told Retro Report: It just missed the bridge of my nose and exited over my left ear. In January, Charity Navigator, a group that oversees nonprofit organizations, placed Wounded Warrior Project on its watch list, Fox News reported, citing a separate CBS report. The kind of fundraising figures that most organizations in the space could only dream about. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, They needed to take responsibility, and they werent doing it.. While the organization keeps a rating of three out of four stars, the numerical score reflects marginal improvements in program expense growth, Magdalena Kurnyta, a Charity Navigator associate program analyst, told Military.com. Do you have a location near me? This year, WWP surpassed the 100,000 mark in terms of veterans they provide assistance to. After Vietnam, many focused on advocacy in Washington. The veterans' service organization called Wounded Warrior Project has just fired two top executives, CEO Steven Nardizzi and COO Al Giordano. He said the. They gave me a Xeroxed map of the hospital grounds and it was not very well photocopied, he explains on the video. He noted approvingly that the organization has hired more mental health professionals to do follow-up with wounded warriors, and invested dynamically in meeting the needs of female veterans. By Friday afternoon, both phones had been disconnected. Show your support for Wounded Warrior Project with this tee! "Wounded Warrior Project was there when I needed them most," says another ad, featuring veteran Chris Wolff, his hand on the wheel of his chair as if poised for action. Mr. Kane said he lambasted Mr. Giordano for hiding behind a wounded veteran on camera and said he would cancel his donations. Wounded Warrior Project Survey Shows 6 in 10 Wounded Veterans Are Struggling to Make Ends Meet. He was not in the room at the time but was held responsible for the fight, his boss at the time, Mr. Chick, said in an interview. reported that the Wounded Warrior Project. Market data provided by Factset.