Be careful when donating to Wounded Warriors

January 28, 2016

Mike Wilcox

Mike Wilcox

I’m all for helping veterans. After all, these men and women have sacrificed tremendously to defend our freedoms and way of life. Renee Haley, who has spearheaded the many fundraisers to establish Veterans Freedom Park in Harrison, has worked diligently for many years to provide for our veterans. Kudos go to Dave Homan and the staff at the former Days Inn in Clare who are providing shelter for homeless veterans.

These are local efforts that deserve our money and praise. On the flipside however, are many national organizations that purport to provide money to wounded veterans, that actually almost spend more on salaries and bureaucracy. One you know very well- The Wounded Warrior Project.

A CBS News investigation provides damning evidence that this charity only spends 58 percent of the money it gets from you and I, on veterans and their needs. Charity Navigator, a site that monitors all charities, claims the Wounded Warrior Project took in over $300,000,000 in 2014. That means over $100,000,000 was spent on other things not related to serving veterans’ needs.

The chief executive officer of the Wounded Warriors Project, Steve Nardizzi, is paid nearly $400,000 a year. Several other executives earn over $100,000 a year. I won’t bore you with the data, but it is stunning to see how much is spent on salaries (over $12 million) for a charitable organization with the objective of helping wounded veterans.

The CBS report claims $26 million was spent in 2014 on conferences and meetings, which is the same amount Wounded Warrior spends on combat stress relief.  The 2014 annual meeting was held at a luxury resort in Colorado Springs where the price tag was about $3 million and according to one attendee there were several $2000 bar tabs.

Like most charitable organizations the Wounded Warrior Project began very small in a Florida warehouse. It has blossomed in to one of the largest charities in the world with not a warehouse now, but lavish offices  and a huge spending budget, that many former employees say is out of control.
Nardizzi came aboard in 2009, and substantially increased the fundraising efforts. But along with that he elevated the spending on conferences, parties and public relations, as well as recruited top notch fundraisers that he paid six figure salaries to.

I’ve got to admit the TV advertising and their social media pleas make me want to get out my wallet and donate. What the heck, I could get one of those nifty t-shirts or even a blanket that says I’m a supporter of our veterans. I’m sure many of you have probably bit the bullet and offered them your credit card. Why wouldn’t you?

Well with what I’ve found and written, I wish you wouldn’t. There are many more deserving charities that need your money. There are many closer to home that actually help veterans in our area that are more deserving. Why send your money to the Wounded Warrior Project, when now you know 42% goes to salaries, public relations, parties and other things other than supporting veterans?
That’s my two cents for today. You can take it or leave it.

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