After amassing over $370 million in 2015 to assist disabled veterans, a CBS investigation has revealed profligate spending on meetings, conferences, travel and accommodations, salaries and public relations costs at the Wounded Warrior Project.
In addition to CNN’s exploration of the group, the New York Times is reporting the charity distributes 60 cents on every dollar raised on programs for veterans, family and primary caregivers to the most severely disabled.
More troubling is the disclosure the organization’s spending on social events increased $24 million in the last five year period.
Among the most strident critics are former employees: Veteran and ex-employee Erick Millette quit in frustration after experiencing unnecessary and costly expenditures on social functions and lodging for top executives at the charity.
“They’re using our injuries, our darkest days, our hardships, to make money,” Millette said.
Receiving exceptional criticism is Steven Nardizzi, who was appointed CEO of the group in 2009: The flamboyant Nardizzi is known for theatrical appearances at Wounded Warrior fundraisers and conferences; he once entered a function on a horse and at a second gala entered by rappelling down the side of a building.
It is, however, dispiriting to hear the testimony of veterans who are no longer in the employ of the group. One veteran, William Chick, recounted a group which dismisses employees frequently, accompanied by the explanation the discharged were a “bad cultural fit.”
Chick acknowledges the Wounded Warrior Project helps countless veterans and their families, but states the group morphed from assisting servicemen and women into an association preoccupied with burnishing its image and obsessed with increasing funds.
Ayla Tezel, spokeswoman for Wounded Warrior, defended the group and stated the charity employs numerous veterans and scores high among charities as a warm, welcoming environment for employees.
Mr. Narduzzi did not respond to requests for interviews after broadcasts exposing the details of Wounded Warrior appeared on CBS.
[RT News] [New York Times] [CBS News] [Photo courtesy giveanhour.org]