Reforms at Wounded Warrior Project after CBS News investigation

Iraq War veteran Eric Millette quit his job with Wounded Warrior Project, denouncing what he saw as lavish spending on staff parties and executive salaries.

“I’ll be damned if you’re gonna take hard working Americans’ money and drink it and waste it,” Millette said.

A CBS News investigation in January found discrepancies in how much the charity claimed it was spending on its mission and how it actually used millions of dollars of donations.

The investigation also found that the Wounded Warrior Project spent heavily on lavish offsite retreats and parties for employees.

“It was extremely extravagant, dinners and alcohol,” said a former employee.

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

Some former employees who spoke to CBS News for the investigation were so fearful of retaliation they asked for their faces to not be shown on camera.

After an internal investigation the, foundation’s board of directors fired CEO Stephen Nardizzi -- who had made flamboyant entrances at staff parties -- for focusing too much on fundraising rather than veterans’ programs.

Six weeks ago, former Army Lt. Gen. Michael Linnington became CEO. He appeared on “CBS This Morning” Thursday to announce a series of changes to the organization. He also promised transparency.

“What I’m doing today is pledging to everyone my best efforts, our best efforts, to squeeze every nickel of every donor dollar,” Linnington said.

Wounded Warrior Project says it has also banned extravagant staff parties, and will increase investments in mental health care.

“We are doubling down on those efforts because, indeed, that need is great and growing,” Linnington said.

The charity has also lain off nearly half of its executive staff, and reduced its total workforce be about 15 percent.

Donations to Wounded Warrior Project have reportedly been down significantly since CBS News first exposed their extravagant spending. Now, the new management hopes the changes they’re making will help convince the public that they are back on track.

Editor’s note: A CBS Corporation executive sits on the Wounded Warrior Project’s board

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.