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CBS News Investigates Jacksonville-Based Wounded Warrior Project

Wounded Warrior Project flag
Lindsey Kilbride

The Jacksonville-based Wounded Warrior Project charity is being harshly criticized in a CBS News investigation.

The Wounded Warrior Project’s purpose is to aid injured service members entering back into society. A televised series questions the nonprofit’s spending, saying according to Charity Navigator, only 60 percent of proceeds are going to wounded vets.

CBS News spoke to more than 40 former employees, who said spending at Wounded Warrior Project was out of control. One was Erick Millette, a wounded veteran with a Purple Heart.

”You're using our injuries, our darkest days, our hardships, to make money. So you can have these big parties,” Millette said in the televised report. “Let's get a Mexican mariachi band in there; let's get maracas made with the Wounded Warrior Project logo, put them on every staff member's desk. Let's get it catered and have a big old party, staying at a lavish hotel at the beach here in Jacksonville, One Ocean.”

The CBS report says the charity’s tax forms show spending on conferences and meetings went from just under $2 million in 2010 to $ 26 million dollars in 2014.

In an email to WJCT, a Wounded Warrior Project sent the following statement:

"The CBS News piece had numerous factual errors and misrepresented the good work Wounded Warrior Project does on behalf of this nation’s injured veterans. 

Wounded Warrior Project leads the industry in transparency and reporting publicly our independently audited financial documents. Separate from our financials, we also make public all of our program information and impact metrics. These are readily available on our website for anyone to view.

Based on our most recently independently audited financial statements, 80.6 percent of total expenditures went to provide 20 services and programs for Wounded Warriors and their families.

Wounded Warrior Project is a Gold Standard Better Business Bureau accredited charity.

We provide programs and services to more than 83,000 wounded veterans. Wounded Warrior Project works every day to ensure our programs meet the needs of our wounded veterans. We just launched our Warrior Care Network to help provide world-class mental health care for wounded veterans. Warrior Care Network represents a $100 million investment to ensure warriors struggling with the hidden wounds of war get the help they need. We will commit $500 million to our Independence Program and Long-Term Support Trust – two programs that directly help the most severely injured veterans."

Parts one and two of the CBS series aired Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. CBS Evening News aired part three of its Wounded Warrior Project investigation Wednesday evening.