Chief program officer of Wounded Warrior Project resigns

Adam Silva steps down during conference call Monday

Adam Silva is chief program officer for Jacksonville-based charity Wounded Warrior Project.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The chief program officer of the Wounded Warrior Project resigned Monday, sources told the News4Jax I-TEAM.

Adam Silva stepped down from the charity during a conference call Monday following I-TEAM and national investigations into allegations of questionable spending and a culture of fear at the Jacksonville-based nonprofit.

Four sources told the I-TEAM about the conference call and also confirmed that the charity has not alerted staff in writing at this time.

Silva's wife still works for WWP as an executive vice president. The couple’s combined income while working at WWP was reportedly more than $300,000.

The I-TEAM reached out to the WWP for official comment, as well as the board's spokesperson and the local PR contact, but has not yet heard back.

Silva had spoken out about the investigative reports on his social media pages, referring to the controversy as "heavy bulls***."

One of Silva's Facebook posts, made two days after the investigative reports in January, read:

“Disclaimer: 'Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth.'  ... This week many who love me asked, 'how you holding up?' My response: God blessed me with the honor and responsibility of leading the baddest f'ing non-profit program team IN THE WORLD for the baddest f'ing Veterans Service Organization IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY. I'd say I'm 'holding up' pretty well.”

Another post that same week read:

“I would like to officially apologize to my WWP family. Today I broke a rule and I beg for your forgiveness. I CALLED A WARRIOR to check in. I'm not sure I'll ever recover from this. #sarcasm”

Silva’s announcement came less than two months after Chief Executive Officer Steven Nardizzi and Chief Operating Officer Al Giordano were ousted.

A news release detailed the board's findings after a six-week independent review of the charity’s finances and culture. The board said that the leadership changes were needed to "restore trust in the organization among all of the constituencies WWP serves."

Retired Maj. Gen. Charlie Fletcher was named interim chief operating officer last month. The board continues to look for a permanent CEO.

The I-TEAM first began investigating the charity in early January and spoke with seven former employees, who all relayed stories of wasteful spending at employee training events and unnecessary office parties.

Charity Navigator, an independent charity oversight group, examined Wounded Warrior Project's financial filings with the IRS and found just under 60 percent of all donations go back into veterans' programs.

Another charity watchdog, Charity Watch, used a different financial resource, Wounded Warrior Project's independently audited financial statements, and found just 54 percent of donations went to veterans.

Wounded Warrior Project disputes both ratings on social media, saying 80 percent of spending goes back into programs for services.

Since the allegations surfaced, Charity Navigator placed WWP on its Watch List as an alert for donors. Before doing so, Charity Navigator's committee gave WWP two days to respond, but never heard from the organization.

The Patriots Initiative, a California-based charity that grades military charities, also downgraded WWP and removed the charity from its list of efficient and transparent charities.

About the Author:

Lynnsey Gardner is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning investigative reporter and fill-in anchor for The Local Station.