Former head of Wounded Warrior program committed fraud

Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy's Principal Director Philip Burdette (left), Director of Programs and Budget Peg Mencl and Director of the Recovery Care Coordination Program Robert Carrington (right) are joined at the Care Coordination Summit by actor Sean Astin, who is an active supporter of Service members and their families. Astin is best known for his role as Samwise Gamgee in the motion picture Lord of the Rings. Photo credit: DOD

By Brett Gillin

In a report made public on Monday, Philip A. Burdette, the former chief of the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy, was accused of breaking laws and regulations while acting as chief. The Department of Defense’s Inspector General report, which was completed over a year ago, asks that officials “consider appropriate corrective action” based on the findings, and advocate groups for wounded warriors are watching carefully to see if that action is taken.

According to this report on, Burdette served in official capacity at the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy from 2010 to 2013. While he no longer holds that position, Burdette was transferred out of that role, but placed into another role as a special assistant and senior adviser to the secretary of defense for health affairs according to Navy Times.

The Inspector General’s report claims that Burdette bullied and berated underlings, bilked taxpayers by taking a ski vacation with inappropriate funds, and improperly attempted to aid a government subcontractor. The Navy Times went into further detail, claiming that Burdette detailed a contractor to work as a golf caddy during a charity golf event, attempted to influence contracts toward a certain subcontractor, and misused multiple government resources. If these allegations are true, Burdette is in serious violation of federal laws and Department of Defense Regulations.

The report further explains that a total of six complaints were filed between December 20, 2011 and March 13, 2012 alleging bullying and berating of employees by calling them names and slurs such as “liar,” “criminal,” and “stupid.” In fact, the report polled 19 employees of the office asking if Burdette inspired employees or fostered trust, only to find that 17 replied “no” and 2 were undecided. Perhaps the most damning claim which was levied against Burdette claimed that he cut the staff of the department unnecessarily, which negatively affected the service to our wounded warriors.

Although neither the Department of Defense nor Burdette are talking about specifics of this report due to “ongoing personnel issues,” TribLive discovered a 2013 letter from Burdette to investigators in which he contested their findings, claiming that the sworn testimony of 27 witnesses was a conspiracy leveled by disgruntled employees.

However, according to Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, the Inspector General’s report “outlines serious violations of contracting, ethics, and management laws and policies. The call for corrective action is a sign that Mr. Burdette crossed a line. Let’s hope that actions were taken and there is a push to eradicate the toxic culture from inside the agency.”




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