Can Changes at the Wounded Warrior Projects Save the Non-Profit?


By Debbie Gregory.

On the heels of a lot of bad press, the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is making a number of changes, including firing former executives, closing offices, and redirecting funds to counter the previous spending scandal.

After an internal investigation, the foundation’s board of directors fired CEO Stephen Nardizzi, who often made flamboyant entrances at staff parties, for focusing too much on fundraising rather than veterans’ programs.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Linnington, who took over as CEO earlier this year, said that changes are being made in order to provide the best resources possible to veterans.

The moves come months after the 13-year-old organization came under attack for accusations of reckless spending: exorbitant staff salaries, lavish staff parties and corporate retreats, expensive dinners and alcohol.

Linnington acknowledged that the recent scandals have hurt fundraising totals this year, but change is on the way.
The non-profit is boosting support for programs such as the Long-Term Support Trust initiative, and ending others such as the Transition Training Academy.

“We had to look at the programs that are the most essential to who we serve, and make sure we’re providing the greatest assistance to those in the greatest need,” Linnington said.

While trimming the fat from the payroll, the non-profit is planning to add staff  to mental health programs, long-term home-based support services, and helping veterans engage with each other in community activities.
Linnington said the group is planning to continue its support of veterans’ charities. In fiscal 2015, Wounded Warrior Project handed out about $11 million in grants to outside groups.

Hopefully, the changes made at the WWP will be able to change public perception of the organization.  Linnington is confident they will.

“We are strengthening our programs to better serve our warriors and their families, and will strengthen relationships with community partners in caring for our military community, as well as facilitating partnerships with organizations and businesses doing great work in the civilian sector,” he said in a statement.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Wounded Warrior Project Names Army Vet as New CEO

Michael Linnington

By Debbie Gregory.

Michael Linnington, the former head of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) is leaving that position to take over as CEO of the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) on July 18th.

Linnington’s decorated 35-year military career included key command positions in three combat tours and senior leadership roles in the Department of Defense

Linnington became the leader of the POW/MIA mission, a military agency that searches for and identifies the remains of missing servicemen, just last year. Prior to Linnington’s involvement, the military’s efforts to find and identify missing remains have suffered from numerous problems. But in the short span of a year, the agency’s laboratories have nearly doubled the identifications of missing servicemen.

The Wounded Warrior Project has been in the news because of the lavish spending of its leadership. For example, in 2014, the non-profit flew some 500 employees to Colorado Springs for an “all hands” meeting at the five-star Broadmoor hotel. Employees bragged about flying in business class and receiving other first class amenities. The spending began to attract attention. Charity Watch, an independent monitoring group, gave Wounded Warrior Project a “D” rating in 2011 and has not given it a grade higher than C since.

Linnington, who wasn’t looking for a new job, recognized the opportunity at the Wounded Warrior Project to do “incredibly noble work.”

“I’m very proud of the things we’ve done at the DPAA over the past year but I was approached by a group that needed some leadership in caring for our wounded warriors. I’m a 35-year soldier. I brought soldiers to combat and welcomed many of them home that were grievously wounded,” Linnington said.

As permanent CEO of WWP, Linnington will oversee the organization’s day-to-day operations and set the strategic vision to guide the organization forward, ensuring that WWP’s programs and services benefit wounded warriors, caretakers and families who rely on the organization’s life-changing services.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.