Wounded Warrior Project chair on recovery from spending scandal

The Wounded Warrior Project is working to rebuild trust with its donors and veterans.

The veterans charity group fired CEO Steven Nardizzi and COO Al Giordano late last week, following a January CBS News investigation that reported on dozens of former employees who described lavish spending on conferences, meetings and parties.

After subsequently conducting its own review and speaking with former and current employees, chairman Anthony Odierno said the board "felt it was best for the organization to make a change in the leadership."

Odierno, who has been on the board of directors since 2009 and serving as chairman since 2014, is now leading the search for a permanent chief executive.

"It opened opportunities for us to strengthen some policies, to strengthen some controls around expenses so we will do that," Odierno said on "CBS This Morning" Monday. "And we also felt that there were certain judgment decisions that could've been made better, which is why we ultimately decided that a change should be made."

From public records, CBS News found that the charity spent only 60 percent of donations on vets. Odierno disputed the figure, claiming the organization spends about 80 percent. But that number includes expenses spent on promotional items, direct response advertising and postage costs, which charity watch groups do not consider programming.

Odierno defended the spending, saying, "Raising awareness is a very important part of our mission and it's always been an important part of our our mission and I think that's what connects the American people with our service men and women who are coming back."

Since its initial investigation, CBS News' investigative producers have now spoken with nearly 100 former Wounded Warriors Project employees. Many expressed fear of speaking out about lavish spending and a toxic culture, and several say they were fired for doing so. Odierno admitted that the workplace culture was a factor in the board's decision for a new leadership.

Odierno, a retired U.S. Army captain himself, received help from the Wounded Warriors Project when he was injured in 2004. As it had done for him, he said the charity group was now getting its focus "solely back on serving our wounded warriors, their caregivers and their families."

Odierno has put together a committee to conduct the search for a new chief executive.

"We're going to consider any and all candidates that we think is the best fit for this organization and will keep this organization forward and serving the needs to come because the thing about those who have been wounded is they're going to be living, in many cases, with these injuries for 10, 20 and 30 years, and Wounded Warrior Project needs to be there to serve them," Odierno said.