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March 15, 2016

Wounded Warrior Chair Defends Spending but Says Change Needed

The chairman of the Wounded Warrior Project's board of directors tells CBS News the embattled veterans charity is working to rebuild trust with donors and former service members after firing its two top executives. Controversy over allegations that the nonprofit spent donor funds lavishly on conferences and parties "opened opportunities for us to strengthen some policies, to strengthen some controls around expenses, so we will do that," Anthony Odierno said.

Media investigations of Wounded Warrior's finances prompted directors to commission a spending review that led to last week's sacking of Chief Executive Steven Nardizzi and Chief Operating Officer Al Giordano. The board "felt it was best for the organization to make a change in the leadership," said Mr. Odierno, a retired U.S. Army captain and seven-year board member who is leading the search for a new CEO.

He disputed charity watchdogs' assertion that Wounded Warrior has spent 60 percent of its donations on mission programs, saying the figure is about 80 percent. The larger estimate includes on spending on promotional items and direct-response advertising. "Raising awareness is a very important part of our mission, and it's always been an important part of our our mission," Mr. Odierno said.

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy article on the upheaval at the Wounded Warrior Project.