WWP accused of preying on Americans’ sympathy for injured warriors to pay for drunken parties

The Wounded Warrior Project is facing more accusations of elaborate and wasteful spending in addition to perjury for illegitimate claims made on their website about how they use donor-generated funds.  The accusations question whether they actually fulfill their mission of “honor[ing] and empower[ing] wounded warriors.”

These accusations have been brought forward by Army Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Erick Millette who received services from the WWP after he was diagnosed with PTSD and suffered a traumatic brain injury during his service in Iraq in 2006, where he earned both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service.  After becoming a public advocate and speaker for the organization he accepted a job there because he had admired their work.

According to Millette, he was hired by the Wounded Warrior Project in 2013 and enrolled in its Warriors Speak program, which “provides important life skills that help warriors succeed.”

“I began to see how an organization that rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year is not helping my brothers and my sisters. Or at least not all of them,” said Millette.

According to a CBS interview, Millette quit last year because he was sickened by the organizations behavior.

“They are using our injuries, out darkest days, our hardships, to make money so you can have these big parties,” he said.

Millette heard an employee say, “Let’s get a Mexican Mariachi band in…let’s get maracas made with the Wounded Warrior logo…put them on every staff member’s desk…let’s get it catered…let’s have a big old party.”

Reid stated that nearly forty former employees have come forward to tell their stories, some who kept their identities concealed out of fear of retaliation—and describing concerns similar to Millette’s.

One in particular confirmed what Millette claimed by saying he attended many events and did not see how services were being tracked.

He said, “I think they want to show warriors a good time. I think they get these warriors to events, but where’s the follow up?”

Another employee said, “A lot of the warriors I saw needed mental health treatment. They don’t get that from Wounded Warrior Project.”

When Reid inquired about the team concept that was being promoted there, and asked “what happens when you make a suggestion that there’s a better way to serve veterans?”

“If you use your brain and come up with an idea, within a matter of time, you’re ‘off the bus,'” another employee said, “They don’t need you. It’s their way or the highway,” he added.

Millette raised issues on multiple occasions regarding follow up and case management as well. In the interview, Millette is noticeably upset; “they would say to me, ‘we don’t call warriors; warriors call us,” Millette explained. “As a disabled veteran, it just makes me sick.”

“Warriors Speak is less like a program to help veterans, and more like a fundraising vehicle,” Millette added.

CBS reached out to Wounded Warrior Project CEO Steven Nardizzi, who took over the position in 2009, at the beginning on the organization’s rapid rise to financial success. WWP sent Capt. Ryan Kules, Director of Alumni, in his place, to answer questions. Kules, also a former recipient of the programs and services, like Millette, defended the company, repeating that everything that is done, which includes but in not limited to the lavish spending, the travel, and alcohol, “is all to ensure an aligned team; aligned for team building’.

Kules also said, in defense of the organization, that the WWP routinely calls alumni and their family.  He said, “we call multiple times over the course of a year…on their birth month…to see how they are doing and if they need other programs.”  Millette could not confirm Kules claims and said they were inaccurate.

CBS interviewed Marc Owens, of Marcus ‘Marc’ Owens, a former director of tax-exempt organizations at the IRS answered to his biggest concern facing the Wounded Warrior Project with the allegations that are coming to light.

“That I couldn’t tell the number of people that were assisted,” Owens said. “I thought that was truly unusual.”

Reid stated, “They do put some of those numbers on the website.” Owens responded, “Yes. They do…and form 990 is signed under the penalties of perjury.”

Reid suggested that companies have to be careful making financial claims and writing that they are helping a certain number of people; “You have to be careful on there,” Reid said.

“That’s right, you have to be certain,” Owens said.

Millette ended the interview saying that “the Wounded Warriors and those donor dollars trained me to be a voice and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m sorry but, I’ll be damned if you’re going to take hard working American’s money and drink it, and waste it”.

The investigation into Wounded Warrior Project is ongoing.

© 2015 Bright Mountain Media, Inc.

All rights reserved. The content of this webpage may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written consent of Bright Mountain Media, Inc. which may be contacted at info@brightmountainmedia.com


  • Penny M. Polokoff-Kreps earned her BA in Sociology from Queens College of the City University of New York. She is a published author, speaker, FL Supreme Court mediator, and a Guardian ad Litem. She runs a non-profit with her husband, a Vietnam veteran, providing nutritional supplements for veteran cancer survivors, and supporting veterans in obtaining service dogs. She is passionate about veteran's issues especially those related to PTSD and mental health.

Post navigation