The Wounded Warrior Project or Wounded Warrior Profit?
A new report investigating where Wounded Warrior Project donations go does not look good for the veterans’ charity, whose mission is to raise money and provide services for American military vets. The report shows that the charity uses significantly less of their income on vets compared to other veterans’ organizations and raises questions about where the money is going.
According to CBS News, the Wounded Warrior Project uses only 60 percent of their budget on veteran programs and activities — a third less than other organizations such as Fisher House and the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust who both spend more than 90 percent of their funds on charitable work.
The New York Times also reports that about 40 percent of the charity’s money is spent on organizational overhead, about $124 million in 2014 alone — the organization takes in about $300 million a year. The Wounded Warrior Project is, according to some, modeled after for-profit businesses and employs practices that are not common with other charities.
The Wounded Warrior Project responded to the CBS piece, demanding that they retract the report and accusing CBS of making “false statements.”
“We demand that CBS immediately correct the record, issue a retraction of the false statements, and issue an apology to the public and the tens of thousands of wounded veterans and their families who have been offended by these false statements,” said Ayla Tezel, executive vice president of communications for the Wounded Warrior Project. We expect your prompt attention to this urgent matter.”
This is not the first time the Wounded Warrior Project has been cast in a negative light. Last year the Daily Beast revealed that the charity sold donor information to pad their bottom line, and in the past the organization has tried to shut down other wounded veterans’ charities in competition with the Wounded Warrior Project.
Army Staff Sergeant Erick Millette spoke out against the Wounded Warrior Project to CBS News. “Their mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors, but what the public doesn’t see is how they spend their money,” he said.
Millette, who served in Iraq and is a decorated — and wounded — veteran, is an ex-Wounded Warrior project spokesman. “You’re using our injuries, our darkest days, our hardships, to make money. So you can have these big parties,” said Millette.
According to the report the charity spent $26 million on conferences in 2014 alone, about as much as they spend on their Combat Stress Recovery Program, one of their biggest projects. “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 Wounded Warrior Project is rejecting the claims that their spending was on non-charitable work. “CBS falsely reported our conference and meeting expenses” argued Tezel. “94 percent of the figure CBS reported as conference and meetings for staff was actually a program expense for warriors and their families to participate in services such as mental health programming.”
(Editor’s note: Having not had any experience working with the WWP, it’s not within our purview to make any judgements about the organization. We’re just reporting what other news organizations are saying based on their investigations. As for whether WWP is running an above board operation, we’ll let you weigh in and give us your thoughts and experiences.)