“A lot of the warriors I saw needed mental-health treatment. They don’t get that from Wounded Warrior Project.”
Who do Vet’s turn to for help when they return back from the war? It’s not our government, who has consistently failed these brave men and women. Now the nation’s leading charity, the Wounded Warrior Project is under attack.
The Wounded Warrior Project was founded in 2003 as a grassroots charity that distributed toiletries and other items to hospitalized Iraq War vets. They have raised more than $1 billion and have eclipsing other veterans’ charities in both size and stature. Last year, Wounded Warrior Project collected more than $372 million, mostly in small sums donated by senior citizens, according to the New York Times.
To give you a clue at what is going on Wounded Warrior is spent 60 percent of the money earned on helping Vets while Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust and the Fisher House Foundation spend 96 to 91 percent.
As these Vets are getting less and less help Wounded Warrior has increased its spending on fund-raising efforts. According to the Times $34 million was devoted to revenue-generation. CBS reported that Wounded Warrior’s spending on meetings and events went from $1.7 million to more than $26 million. In 2014 in a four-day event they spent about $3 million for a corporate retreat at Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs. The event featured CEO Steven Nardizzi whose salaery was $473,000 that year. Nardizzi, is a lawyer who’s never served in the military. He took over Wounded Warrior from founder John Melia, an ex-Marine who was injured in a 1992 helicopter crash. Nardizzi defended his financial strategy to the Times, saying it had fueled the group’s growth and allowed it to provide services to an estimated 80,000 vets.
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Erick Millette — who sustained a traumatic brain injury during the Iraq War and still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder — said he quit working as a public speaker for the group in disgust over its practices. On CBS he stated “You’re using our injuries, our darkest days, our hardships, to make money. So you can have these big parties.”
Celebrities such as Bruce Willis, country music singer Trace Adkins and actor Dean Norris, who played DEA agent Hank Schrader on “Breaking Bad” are helping Wounded Warriors stay front and present.
Ex-employee’s many of them disabled vets are coming forth to state the people in charge are taking lavish trips that include 4 star meals and over the top expenses. CBS News reported that one former staff member said the group’s “extremely extravagant” outlays amount to “what the military calls fraud, waste and abuse. I’m sorry, but I’ll be damned if you’re gonna take hard-working Americans’ money and drink it and waste it.”
To make matters worse the Wounded Warrior Project has been firing these Vets with post-traumatic stress disorder, the same invisible wounds the charity says it strives to help warriors heal. Sources say people have been too afraid to come forward and tell the public, until now. A women employee known only as Carol stated. “Dare you say anything, you don’t say anything, as they would ruin me. They would come after me somehow, someway.” They are seeing two of these Vets. Both wounded veterans, named in the lawsuits had PTSD and that’s part of why they were fired from the charity. Both lawsuits only show WWP’s side, claiming the injured veterans violated their severance agreements. Documents show one disabled veteran and a woman, were sued because WWP found a copy of her severance agreement in the hands of an Indiana charity – also being sued by WWP. The second injured veteran, a man, is being sued because a donor rescinded his $2,400 donation to WWP after finding out that warrior had been fired. In that second lawsuit, WWP demanded more than $52,000 from him – his $50,000 severance plus damages and attorney fees. Court records show both lawsuits are still open, yet the owners of WWP are lying stating that they have not sued the former employees “Them suing fellow wounded warriors honestly, I think is a travesty,” said an anonymous man speaking on behalf of an anonymous veterans’ service organization. “I know of several wounded warriors that have personally had several encounters with the project and had nothing nice to say about them.”
In a statement Wednesday, Wounded Warrior calls itself “a leader in non-profit transparency and the public reporting of the organization’s independent financial audits. “We are an open book.“
They may be an open book but, in a world where greed is king, it seems this just might not be as legit as it seems. The Salvation Army gives away 96% of their money earned to the people who need it. Now that is a charity to trust.
Many Cabaret and Theatrical artist do benefit concerts for this group in order to give back. I have been to three in the past year. Maybe it is time to find another charity that is truly giving.