Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wounded Warrior Program criticized

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 12:11 PM

click to enlarge We snapped a picture of this business card, because we wanted to show the logo for WWP. But since WWP has been touchy about use of the logo, we figured this might be the better avenue.
  • We snapped a picture of this business card, because we wanted to show the logo for WWP. But since WWP has been touchy about use of the logo, we figured this might be the better avenue.


We just heard back from Rob Louis, public relations specialist with Wounded Warrior Project headquarters in a statement labeled, "WWP response to false news reports." Note that he doesn't say what exactly was false about those reports.
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is a leader in nonprofit transparency and the public reporting of the organization's independent financial audits. We are an open book. We owe that to those who support us and to those we serve - wounded warriors.

The chair of Wounded Warrior Project's Audit Committee, Richard M. Jones, a prominent tax attorney and certified public accountant, is the Executive Vice President, General Tax Counsel, and Chief Veteran Officer at CBS Corporation. Mr. Jones stands by our financial statements, our reporting methods, our public filings, and our independent audits.

CBS News did not reach out to Mr. Jones prior to airing a story with false information about our finances.

Wounded Warrior Project provides more than 20 needs-specific, free programs and services to more than 83,000 wounded veterans, who we call Alumni, and more than 15,000 family support members. We are constantly expanding our services to better support warriors. We just launched the Warrior Care NetworkT to help provide world-class mental health care for wounded veterans. Warrior Care Network represents a $100 million investment to ensure warriors struggling with the hidden wounds of war get the help they need. We have already committed $110 million to our long-term support initiatives - the Independence Program and Long-Term Support Trust - two programs that directly help the most severely injured veterans.

To be clear, Wounded Warrior Project is trusted by nearly 100,000 veterans, their caregivers, and families, to provide them with critical care programs and services every day. Alumni regularly praise our organization for making a life-altering impact. The demand for our services continues to grow as evidenced by the more than 1,200 new registrations we receive from the wounded each month. And, we are proud to welcome so many of our Alumni as WWP staff. Their belief in - and passion for - who we are, what we do, and why it matters, is evidenced in their very lives.

Many people like to talk about the need to support wounded warriors - Wounded Warrior Project is actually doing it - every day and in record numbers.

As for the Daily Beast, I am not familiar with any new reporting from them. 


Dave Philipps, a former Gazette reporter now working for The New York Times, filed this story on the WWP controversy:

——————-ORIGINAL POST 12;11 P.M. WEDNESDAY, JAN. 27, 2016—————————————————-

A year or more ago, Leslie Coleman, PR specialists with the Wounded Warrior Project in Colorado Springs, called asking for a "get acquainted" meeting. Sure, we said.

Today, we can't reach her. The office phone rings and rings before going to a message saying the number has no voice mail set up. The mobile phone number rings to someone else entirely, so that number apparently has been reassigned. The office is located in a swank building at 1 S. Nevada Ave. and is staffed by 10 to 12 people, according to receptionist.

There's no PR person locally, the receptionist said, and after we asked her three times if she'd attended a WWP party at The Broadmoor, she finally said, "It wasn't a party" but rather "some of it" was a team-building exercise that she said was "a lot of work."


CBS News reports that the WWP parent organization raised more than $300 million last year and spent freely on parties and "team building" for staff, which included that Broadmoor resort event.

According to CBS News:
Former employees say spending has skyrocketed since Steven Nardizzi took over as CEO in 2009. Many point to the 2014 annual meeting at a luxury resort in Colorado Springs as typical of his style.

"He rappelled down the side of a building at one of the all hands events. He's come in on a Segway, he's come in on a horse."

About 500 staff members attended the four-day conference in Colorado. The price tag? About $3 million.

"Donors don't want you to have a $2,500 bar tab. Donors don't want you to fly every staff member once a year to some five-star resort and whoop it up and call it team building," said Millette.
The story is accompanied by a photo of The Broadmoor.

Here's the board, according to the WWP local website: Anthony Odierno, Roger Campbell, Richard Jones, Guy McMichael III, Justine Constantine, Robert Nardelli.

The local receptionist referred us to the PR person for the parent organization, Joanne Fried. We've placed a call to her and if and when we hear back, we'll update.

The Daily Beast reports WWP intimidates other organizations who help soldiers.
Wounded Warrior USA, a small Colorado charity with a $15,000 operating budget, had a Wounded Warrior Project lawyer reach out to them to demand they change the free clip art they were using as a label on coffee packages they were using for fundraising. “They got really nasty with us,” said Wounded Warrior USA founder Dave Bryant.
According to the WWP tax report for the most recent year available, the only Colorado entity receiving money from the parent organization was the Vail Veterans Foundation, which received $100,000.

CEO Steven Nardizzi, the form shows, was paid an obscene $500,000 in salary and benefits, including an $88,000 bonus. He's founder, according to the WWP bio available for him, which also says,
For more than 10 years prior to joining WWP, Steve worked as an attorney representing disabled veterans for several veterans service organizations. He spent nine years with the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA), taking on increasingly responsible roles. He eventually became director of EPVA’s benefits service department and subsequently served as associate executive director of member services.
Read the 990 tax form here:

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