Wounded Warrior founder would lead group again - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Wounded Warrior founder would lead group again

Posted: Updated:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -

The Latest on the firings at the Wounded Warrior Project (all times local):
    
4:45 p.m.
    
A former U.S. Marine who started the Wounded Warrior Project years ago tells The Associated Press he's open to returning and restoring the group's reputation now that two executives who replaced him have been fired.
    
John Melia launched the project on a shoestring budget in 2003 after reflecting on his experience being injured in a helicopter crash off Somalia. Years later, he was replaced as CEO by Steve Nardizzi, a lawyer who brought an aggressive entrepreneurial style to the charity and turned it into an $800 million fundraising enterprise.
    
Now that Nardizzi and chief operating officer Al Giordano have been fired in response to reports of lavish spending, Melia says he's open to leading the nonprofit again.
    
Melia told the AP that he's asked for an "immediate" meeting with the nonprofit's board of directors to offer his help.
    
He says donors who supported the group since its humble beginning "have every right to be angry about the lack of stewardship shown by the immediate past leadership of WWP," and "the new leadership of the WWP must do everything in its power to restore its relationship and regain the trust of those it serves and its donors."
    
Melia says the actions of the two fired executives should not reflect poorly on charity employees who still doing good work.
    
___
    
5 a.m.
    
The board of Wounded Warrior Project, one of the nation's largest veteran support groups, has fired two top officials amid news reports accusing the group of wasteful spending.
    
According to a statement released on behalf of Wounded Warrior Project, chief executive officer Steve Nardizzi and chief operating officer Al Giordano are no longer with the organization. CBS News reports the two were fired after a Thursday afternoon meeting in New York.
    
According to CBS, Wounded Warrior Project spends 40 to 50 percent of its money on overhead - including extravagant parties - while other veterans charities have overhead costs of 10 to 15 percent. The CBS report also talked to former employees who accused the organization of making money off their injuries.
    
One former employee told CBS that how Wounded Warrior Project spends money is equivalent to "what the military calls fraud, waste and abuse."

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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