Wounded Warrior Project whistleblower 'couldn't idly stand by'

Whistleblower feels vindicated by Senate report criticizing veterans charity

By Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A day after the release of a nearly 500-page Senate report criticizing past spending by the Wounded Warrior Project, one of the whistleblowers instrumental in bringing those practices to light told the I-TEAM he feels vindicated.

The report said donor dollars had been misused and accused the Jacksonville-based charity of being wasteful and using inflated numbers and advertisements misleading to the public.

RELATED: Senate releases report criticizing Wounded Warrior Project's past spending

The findings come after the Senate Judiciary Committee spent more than a year analyzing confidential records, including receipts, air travel records, event records, internal and external communication reports, IRS records, and more documents provided by WWP and the public relations firm the organization hired in the wake of the spending scandal.

WATCH: I-TEAM's original investigation on WWP | 
UNCUT: I-TEAM's full interview with CEO Mike Linnington | 
FULL REPORT: Sen. Chuck Grassley's report on WWP investigation

Former WWP employee and veteran Erick Millette was the only one of 40 whistleblowers to attach his name and face to the allegations in reports by News4Jax and national media outlets.

“We're not disgruntled employees. We were disgruntled at how they were spending money, but not at the organization,” Millette said. “What bothers me the most still is veterans in need are the ones that got hurt the most and those individuals that work at the organization, they got hurt, too, because they believe in what they are doing and they are hard-working, dedicated individuals and their senior leadership let them down.”

Millette said he suffered extreme public backlash for standing up against former Wounded Warrior Project leaders and speaking out against the spending practices, but he said he would do it all again “in a heartbeat.”

“I knew what I was saying was true, and I knew that something needed to be done in order to preserve what our veterans have gone through -- and for someone to capitalize on their pain and their grief, I couldn’t idly stand by,” Millette said.

Millette said that while he feels vindicated by the report's findings, he is hopeful the charity and its new CEO will be able to turn the narrative around in order to do more good for the country's injured veterans.

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