Wounded Warrior Project attempts to recover from spending scandal

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is struggling to regain the trust of its donors and veterans in the aftermath of a CBS News report criticizing the organization’s spending policies. The veterans charity group fired its CEO Steven Nardizzi and COO Al Giordano in early March.

The action was taken in response to a CBS News investigation in January in which the group’s former employees described wasteful and extravagant spending on parties, meetings and conferences. Board chairman Anthony Odierno is temporarily overseeing WWP while it searches for a permanent CEO. The charity said new leadership would “help restore trust in the organization among all of the constituencies WWP serves.”

WWP collected $312.4 million in donations in 2014. However, CBS News claimed only around 60 percent of donations were directed toward veterans. Using public records, the network found the charity spent $26 million on conferences that year. WWP disputed some of the report’s allegations in a statement released on March 10.

Odierno claimed WWP actually spent about 80 percent of donations on veterans. The group also said 94 percent of the $26 million in spending “was associated with program services delivered to Wounded Warriors and their families.” Odierno is a retired Army captain who himself received WWP’s assistance when he was injured in 2004.

Odierno said the charity group was now getting its focus “solely back on serving our wounded warriors, their caregivers and their families.” WWP ordered an independent review of its operations and has vowed to rein in spending by implementing new rules.

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