CEO: Wounded Warrior Project lost nearly $100M in wake of scandal

50% of execs, 15% of workforce laid off at Jacksonville-based veterans charity

By Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Wounded Warrior Project has lost $90-100 million in donations due to the embattled charity being in the spotlight since January when the News4Jax I-TEAM and national media exposed questionable spending practices and a culture of intimidation and fear by the nonprofit after whistleblowers came forward.

New Chief Executive Officer Mike Linnington sat down with the I-TEAM Friday, revealing that the Jacksonville-based veterans charity had lost 25 percent of donations.

"We're coming to the end of the year. We've lost about 25 percent of generous Americans' donations and we hope to build that back quickly. Next year is going to be a very important year for us," Linnigton said. 

UNCUT: Wounded Warrior Project CEO Mike Linnington's interview with I-TEAM

The extensive loss in donations led to about 85 people -- 15 percent of the charity's workforce -- being laid off this week, nearly 50 percent of its executive staff being reduced and the closing of 9 satellite offices across the country. 

The Wounded Warrior Project's website used to show 18 executives, but only four appeared, as of Friday. 

"It was start at the top and take as many cuts as you could at the top. Look at management," Linnington said. 

Linnington said the executives were not reassigned to other roles, they were laid off. 

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"We're looking at everything. We are looking at real estate. We're looking at service delivery. Where do we need to grow? Where do we need to skinny down?" Linnington said.

Mental health services, both immediate and long-term, are being ramped up and other smaller programs were cut, Linnington said. 

The changes come after Linnington stepped into his new role five weeks ago. Linnington said he's committed to being transparent in hopes of regain trust so that the charity can rebuild.

With a difficult chapter now behind the organization, Linnington said he hopes that the donors will come back around in time. 

"Americans are smart people. They're very generous. They're very forgiving and I do hope at the end of the day that they continue to give to Wounded Warrior Project and other nonprofits that can make a difference. The government cannot do this alone," Linnington said.

The I-TEAM asked Linnington point-blank if he felt that the scrutiny of the Wounded Warrior Project was fair. 

"I'm not focused on that. I'm focused on the future. I wasn't here at the time. I do know that what the negative media events have caused us to do was assess ourselves, see where change is required and then make those changes. And that's what all health organizations do and we are a very health organization," Linnington said in response. 

The I-TEAM asked Linnington what is the future of the Wounded Warrior Project.

"It's important. It's relevant. It makes a difference and it serves warriors," Linnington said.

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