Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Wounded Warrior Project Pick Up the Pieces?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Wounded Warrior Project Pick Up the Pieces?

Article excerpt

The Wounded Warrior Project has announced a series of changes to its structure and staffing after accusations that the nation's largest veteran charity group spends too much donor money on itself.

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) announced a first attempt at changes, including that chief executive officer Steve Nardizzi and chief operating officer Al Giordano have left the organization, in a statement from Thursday. If it ultimately regains public trust, it will be an unprecedented success story, says Greg Hillgren, chairman of the Patriots Initiative, in a phone interview.

"Once they've lost that public confidence and trust it can be game over," says Mr. Hillgren founding member of the San Diego- based watchdog of charities for veterans that removed the WWP from its directory in February. "You're investing for impact, and when that trust is gone it's hard for that organization to recover."

Mr. Hillgren praised the WWP's goal of supporting veterans injured physically or mentally by combat, noting it has impacted the public by its "poignant" commercials alone. He said even that does not make up for problems with both spending and transparency, and he hopes the leadership will begin providing information to donors "out in front instead of having to be repeatedly asked about it and having it dragged out in media reports."

"In terms of getting questions answered, in terms of finding further information, they scored very low," Hillgren says.

Although it has grown from 1,850 participants to 144,000 between 2010 to 2015, reports from various news organizations and other charity watchdogs have revealed areas where the non-profit needs significant improvement, The Christian Science Monitor reported:

Last year, The Daily Beast noted that WWP spent tens of thousands of dollars in court and threatened other charities over their use of similar logos or names. And in a separate report, the Beast criticized WWP's payment of its employees - the group's top 10 salaries totaled around $2.6 million - as well as its selling donor information to outside parties.Now, a new CBS News investigation is calling into question the practices relating to the charity's operational costs and employee spending. …

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