By Debbie Gregory.
The board of directors of the Wounded Warrior Project has fired two of its top executives.
Former CEO Steven Nardizzi and former COO Al Giordano were relieved of their duties following criticisms from more than 40 employees on how donated funds raised by the organization were spent.
The Board had hired forensic accountants to conduct an independent review of financial and other records. Additionally, they will interview former and existing employees and directors.
The board chairman, Army captain Anthony Odierno (Ret) will act as the Interim Chief Executive.
“It is now time to put the organization’s focus directly back on the men and women who have so bravely fought for our country and who need our support,” Odierno said in a statement.
John Melia, who founded the non-profit and left following a 2009 dispute with Nardizzi and Giordano, has expressed interest in returning.
The non-profit veteran organization appeals to the American public’s generosity and desire to reward those who have served, and it works. In 2014, the group received more than $300 million in donations.
According to the charity’s tax filings, spending on conferences and meetings went from $1.7 million in 2010, to $26 million in 2014. That’s almost the same amount spent on its top program, combat stress recovery.
The all hands meetings would take place in great vacation locales, with first class accommodations and all expenses paid. And while the meetings were used to promote team building, many were left wondering if such extremes were warranted.
Many smaller non-profits depend on grants given out by the Wounded Warrior Foundation, and so, moving forward, the new leadership will be focusing on restoring the public’s trust in the good works WWF does.
From 2010 to 2015, participation across WWP’s many programs increased from approximately 1,850 wounded warriors to more than 144,000 wounded warriors.