Waste, fraud, abuse, and possibly arrogance, ousted CEO Steven Nardizzi and COO Al Giordano from the beleaguered Warrior Project last week. The board members voted to make a change in leadership. This morning, there are rumblings that one of the original founders, former Marine John A. Melia could be asked to head up his old organization.
Wounded Warrior Project, in recent years has become “lawsuit happy” suing several individuals and organizations for defamation, logo infringement and more. But the “nail in the coffin” for the two top executives was the excessive spending on team-building parties, holiday extravaganzas, and hotel and travel expenses, reportedly booked at the last minute for the convenience of Nardizzi and Giordano; behavior unbecoming of a charitable veterans’ organization. It should be noted that both Nardizzi and Giordan are attorneys and neither are veterans.
CBS News has spent months on an in-depth investigation and reported this January that WWP raised more than $800 million over the last four years. CBS reported that approximately $24 million of that was inappropriately used by the two men at the top of the organization.
A former employee of Wounded Warrior Project interviewed by this Examiner last week, while not defending the two ousted executives, says the $24 million number, ostensibly spent on parties and drinks, is not entirely accurate. The former employee, who remains in good standing with the organization, says when filing expense accounts all team members used the same input code to record legitimate traveling expenses and for expenses directly related to assisting wounded veterans. The CEO and COO used the same input code to record expenses for the reported parties. That piece of it was not mentioned by Chip Reid, the lead reporter on the CBS investigation.
John Melia, whose name had been completely removed as one of the co-founders of Wounded Warrior Project on their homepage, has started a Facebook page-Restore the Trust- in which he outlines 10 things he would do if asked to return as head of the once beloved Wounded Warrior Project. Although listed as Number 8, one of his directives, “Effectively advocate on behalf of veterans and demand accountability from the Veterans Administration” could be listed as the primary objective.
One of the changes Melia would make to WWP, should he return is: “never again employ advertising depicting a wounded veteran in a helpless condition or employ advertising depicting a despondent family member.” The full list of his proposals can be found here.
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