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Monday, April 12, 2021

Wounded Warrior Project promises full review of finances as scrutiny mounts

Wounded Warrior Project, one of the nation’s largest veterans-oriented charities, promised a “thorough financial and policy review” on Monday after several investigative stories last week raised concerns about it spending money on lavish parties and filing lawsuits against other veterans groups and former employees.

The organization, of Jacksonville, Florida, said in a statement released on Monday afternoon that its board “takes very seriously the concerns that have been raised in recent days.” It said it will retain independent advisers to address the concerns, without elaborating on who will be involved in that effort.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to our warriors and supporters and will ensure that the organization is effectively fulfilling this important mission,” the statement said.

The decision comes after the New York Times and CBS News published stories scrutinizing the nonprofit organization last week. According to the independent charity watchdog Charity Navigator, about 60 percent of Wounded Warrior Project’s money goes toward its mission — 20 to 30 percent below several other major veterans charities.

Wounded Warrior Project initially hit back at the CBS News reports, publishedinthree parts, posting online a letter to CBS News demanding a retraction. Wounded Warrior Project estimates that 80.6 percent of its money goes toward its mission, it said. But that includes shipping, postage and promotional items, CBS News reported.

By Friday, Charity Navigator placed Wounded Warrior Project on its “watch list,” meaning the watchdog has “become become aware of conduct that may affect a donor’s decision to support that charity,” according to Charity Navigator’s website.

Wounded Warrior Project was founded in 2003, and initially focused on providing comfort items such as socks to deployed U.S. service members. By 2014, the charity showed on its tax return that it collected more than $342 million in revenue while regularly airing commercials on national television. It boasts a powerful list of corporate supporters, including the National Football League, Bank of America and Under Armour.

Wounded Warrior Project has squared off against other veterans charities previously, filing suit at times. It has defended doing so, saying that in one case another veterans charity said it was raising money for Wounded Warrior Project, and then decided to keep the money.

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