Why do the misdeeds of one nonprofit cause mistrust of all nonprofits? Wounded Warrior Project was founded in 2003[1] in Roanoke, Virginia,[7] by John Melia. No. Last year, the WWP's people placed 2,555 wounded warriors and their caregivers in jobs generating $87 million in annual income for their families. 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. But people close to the organization also say that, as WWP expanded from a tiny organization distributing free backpacks to wounded veterans in the early 2000s to become one of the most well resourced and influential veterans organizations within a decade, it generated more than its share of ill will. He also denied that the charity spends money on alcohol or engages in any other kind of excessive spending. Copyright 2023 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved. "I'm sorry, but I'll be damned if you're gonna take hard-working Americans' money and drink it and waste it.". Follow the links below to view the court documents. The two top executives of the Wounded Warrior Project among the largest veterans charities in the country were fired Thursday after an investigation into accusations of lavish spending on parties, hotel and travel, according to a statement released on behalf of the embattled organization. Ideally, though, the ratio should be higher. 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. Although detailed defenses of Wounded Warrior Project have been mounted -- including a lengthy independent report from nonprofit expert Doug White, published in September 2016 -- Linnington spends little time trying to relitigate the past. You've successfully subscribed to this newsletter! Please emailfraudalert@woundedwarriorproject.org. 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. Our average age is 38 years old," Linnington said. WWP does not authorize use of its trade names, trademarks, service marks, logos, domain names, and other distinctive brand features without prior approval. WWP continued to support injured service members by providing them with free WWP Backpacks filled with comfort items. Two of those former employees were so fearful of retaliation they asked that their faces not to be shown on camera. 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. Jan. 27, 2016. WWP pays only its vendors, contractors, and legitimate employees, and does not send unsolicited checks in the mail. But according to public records reported by "Charity Navigator," the Wounded Warrior Project spends 60 percent on vets. SVA leaders joined WWP at the White House in April for the latter organization's 12th annual warrior ride. Millette said he witnessed lavish spending on staff. The annual surveys of the wounded warriors the organization serves help direct its focus, Linnington says. 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. [39] The bill would alter current law, which allows access to such counseling only to active duty members of the military, so that members of the Reserves and National Guard would be eligible. He's come in on a Segway, he's come in on a horse, one employee told CBS News. As the Wounded Warrior Project suffers fallout following the ousting of two top executive in the wake of a spending scandal, other charities that work with American veterans were left. The statement also said apreliminary financial audit found that some policies, procedures and controls at WWP have not kept pace with the organizations rapid growth in recent years and are in need of strengthening.. 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[46] That same month, CBS News disclosed that the WWP had grown to spend millions of dollars annually on team-building events. "We've changed that too, honestly," he said. FALSE: That WWP pays excessive compensation. About 500 staff members attended the four-day conference in Colorado. 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. Cool Careers People also search for wounded warrior project clothing wounded warrior project volunteer wounded warrior project topeka kansas Celebrity endorsements from the likes of Trace Adkins and Jimmy Buffett. Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is a Platinum sponsor of the 2022 Department of Defense Warrior Games taking place Aug. 19-28 in Orlando. Unfortunately, yes. As both a national and local veteran charity, we serve veterans, caregivers and families of veterans who incurred a physical or mental injury or illness on or after September 11, 2001. The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is the largest veteran's charity in the United States. In September 2005, The United Spinal Association granted $2.7 million to WWP to "develop into a stand-alone charity with its own identity and programs," with the intent to expand its services from providing immediate comfort items to providing longer-term support for returning wounded veterans via compensation, education, health care, insurance, housing, and employment. Many Americans gave their trust and donated their money to this nonprofitto the tune of more than $372 million in 2015. You have reached your limit of free articles. [16], Wounded Warrior Project registered for incorporation on February 23, 2005. Besides devastating both donors and wounded veterans, this news could undercut public support for the nonprofit sector as a whole. Surveys conducted by an arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the fuel leak wreaked havoc on physical Copyright 2023 Military.com. GuideStar has also requested a retraction printed and the removal of the untruthful material. Board chairman Anthony Odierno was announced as temporarily taking control of the charity. To continue addressing these social needs and address the distrust caused by nonprofit scandals, we need to improve our nonprofit sector. "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.". Every month in 2021, more than 1,277 warriors and family members registered with Wounded Warrior Project to receive our free programs and services. "Let's get a Mexican mariachi band in there, let's get maracas made with [the] WWP logo, put them on every staff member's desk. Millette said he witnessed lavish spending on staff, with big catered parties. "Going to a nice fancy restaurant is not team building. Be able to be able to provide the best quality services.". Recently, however, they have been accused of being a scam and donating an insignificant portion of their funds to their declared cause. Wounded Warrior Project is an American charity and veterans service organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of the military actions following September 11, 2001. Now, they're doing that follow-up, and they have the capacity to deal with the mental health issues," he said. " If you have been a victim of this fraudulent solicitation, we urge you to contactyour state consumer protection agency they have the best available resources to investigate and prosecute these matters. Descriptions of our programs can be found. Army Staff Sergeant Erick Millette, who returned from Iraq in 2006 with a bronze star and a purple heart, told CBS News at the time he admired the charitys work and took a job with the group in 2014 but quit after two years. In a survey of the injured warriors Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) serves, 62% of them reported feelings of loneliness. TRUTH: This is only the amount of funds WWP grants to other organizations, suggesting those grants represent the totality of our programs, which is untrue. His salary can be found on our 990, available on our financials page. (2015). Most likely no. "[41] The WWP also testified that in addition to expanding access to MST care, the VA needed to improve care itself, because veterans report "inadequate screening, providers who were either insensitive or lacked needed expertise and facilities ill-equipped to appropriately care for MST survivors. Wounded Warrior Project initially operated as a division of the United Spinal Association of New York, which adopted WWP as a program in November 2003, Wounded Warrior Project registered for incorporation on February 23, 2005. In 2014, afederal court judgmentwas entered against Graham permanently enjoining him from making defamatory statements about WWP. 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. Two former employees, who were so fearful of retaliation they asked that CBS News not show their faces on camera, said spending has skyrocketed since Steven Nardizzi took over as CEO in 2009, pointing to the 2014 annual meeting at a luxury resort in Colorado Springs. Our salaries are consistent with industry standards and have often fallen at the lower end of compensation paid at comparable organizations. [5], WWP allocates 71 percent of its revenue to programs and services for wounded veterans and their families, and the remaining balance pays to support those programs.[6]. We all have the power to ensure that we can truly trust nonprofits to spend our money wisely. Previous reporting from Tim Mak, then at the Daily Beast, had detailed similar claims, but the reports published in January pushed the issue to critical mass. (Linnington said more than 72% of WWP spending currently goes toward programs.). "Donors don't want you to have a $2,500 bar tab. The nonprofit sector provides social services that governments cant or wont, including providing food, shelter and free higher education to the poor. 4899 Belfort Road Suite 300Jacksonville, FL 32256, Wounded Warrior Project is a tax-exempt 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization CFC #11425, https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/scam-information/fraud-faqs, woundedwarriorproject.org/mission/financials, our IRS Form 990 and audited financial statements, state or local consumer protection office, consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0121-charitable-solicitations-vet-military-families. 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," Millette continued. Plenzler said spending on that program so far has totaled $100 million, with another $165 million committed over the next five years. The bill would extend a VA program of counseling and care and services for veterans for military sexual trauma that occurred during active duty or active duty for training to veterans who experienced such trauma during inactive duty training, WWP filed a lawsuit in October 2014 seeking damages and court costs against a Blandon, Pennsylvania non-profit Keystone Wounded Warriors claiming confusing similarities between Keystone's and WWP's logos. Speaking at the opening of the military chiefs' meeting in Brussels, NATO's deputy secretary general said alliance members 'Code Name Blue Wren' is the astounding story of DIA mole Ana Montes, told by a veteran investigative reporter. Our warriors and their families deserve no less. But, as it turned out, reports of the death of Wounded Warrior Project have been greatly exaggerated. We recognize these are freedoms our service members fought and sacrificed to protect. 2023 FOX News Network, LLC. "Their mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors, but what the public doesn't see is how they spend their money," said Army Staff Sergeant Erick Millette. Its Time to Close It, Military Families Stressed by Delay in Parental Leave Rules from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Practicing Mindfulness the Marine Corps Way Leads to Mental Resilience, After 89 Years, Coast Guard Academy Using Racist Episode to Teach a Better Future, 34 Years: Coast Guard Raises the Limit on How Long Senior Enlisted Can Serve, Mary Stewart, World War II SPAR Beloved by Coasties, Dead at 101, The Navy Confiscated a Camera During 'Top Gun: Maverick' Filming, Gerard Butler and Mike Colter Take on a Rebel Militia in 'Plane'. Dinners and alcoholjust total excess." "I was always grateful for that mission," Linnington said. But newly released numbers for fiscal 2018 show a bounce in the right direction, up 16% to $246 million. [2], As of August 22, 2021, WWP served 157,975, registered alumni and 40,520 registered family support members. The Wounded Warrior Project is working to rebuild trust with its donors and veterans. "[34], Wounded Warrior Project filed a lawsuit in October 2014 seeking damages and court costs against a Blandon, Pennsylvania, non-profit, Keystone Wounded Warriors, claiming confusing similarities between the Keystone and WWP logo; Hampton Roads, VA Channel 3 TV covered the Keystone story on April 30, 2015,[35] and Nonprofit Quarterly covered the story with a title asking, is WWP "a 'Neighborhood Bully' among Veterans Groups? WWP also does not authorize proceeds from sales without a licensing agreement. Many Americans gave their trust and. The WWP 2012 990 actually shows that our total expenses (program, admin, and fundraising) were $95,511,549. John Melia, a Somalia-wounded Marine veteran initiated, the Wounded Warrior Project when he started giving backpacks full of items to returning Iraq war veterans in 2003. These uniforms were made by Under Armor.
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