Wounded Warriors Project, the scoundrels who are eager to raise money from gun owners but who don’t want to be associated or affiliated with gun owners or their charities (see stories one, two, three), is busy detailing their legal team to attack a small Indiana veterans charity who dared call out WWP on their financial shenanigans.

Help Indiana Veterans is a small non-profit in Indiana that dedicates itself to assisting veterans in Indiana.  100% of their net monies goes to assisting veterans.  They don’t have a single paid staff member.  In fact, founders Dean and Patricia Graham have spent thousands of their own money in addition to donations to assist Hoosier veterans in need.

Contrast that with Wounded Warriors Project, who paid their head guy Steve Nardizzi nearly $350,000 in salary and benefits in 2011.  WWP paid over $2 million in salaries and other compensation to Nardizzi and nine other big-shots that year as well.  All told, Wounded Warriors might be better renamed Well-paid Office Warriors as they paid – are you sitting down? – over $21 million to their staff in 2011.

$21 million dollars to staff.

$21 million.  (Here’s the WWP 2011 tax return).

And how much did they give away in grants in 2011?

Barely $5.5 million dollars – on an income of $148 million.

Does that sound like reasonable and ordinary expenses to you?

It didn’t to Dean Graham who called Wounded Warriors Project “a fraud” (be sure to read the comments section!) and is now being sued by Nardizzi and his well-compensated crew:

INDIANAPOLIS (Fox59) – A national nonprofit group that pulls in more than $150 million annually for veterans has sued local group Help Indiana Vets.

The lawsuit stems from a post on the Help Indiana Vets website, alleging national program Wounded Warrior Project is “a fraud.”

Dean Graham, who founded Help Indiana Vets and posted the article, said he was shocked to hear he’s being sued.

“I think they’re trying to shut me up,” Graham said.

Graham’s allegations are that Wounded Warrior Project does not donate a majority of its profits directly to veterans in need. His article has been re-posted on Facebook and led to emails sent by former donors to the national group.

In the lawsuit, attorneys for the Wounded Warrior Project argue that Graham’s post violates its trademark infringement and has cost it more than $75,000.

“(Graham’s) false and misleading statements alleged herein have deceived many WWP supporters and have caused a number of WWP supporters to cancel their ongoing donations to WWP,” the lawsuit said.

Tom Gresham summed it up nicely when he advised people not to support Wounded Warriors Project.  We agree with him.

We don’t support Wounded Warriors Project.  Are they a “fraud” and “scam”?  That’s up to you.

Do you want to give your money to a so-called veterans assistance organization that spends a couple of pennies on every dollar you donate on the advertised mission, or do you want to donate to local groups who spend nearly 100% of every donated dollar to the intended cause?

If you want most of your money to serve veterans, don’t give to Wounded Warriors project.

And tell your friends.






16 thoughts on “Indiana veterans charity sued for calling out Wounded Warriors Project on financial shenanigans”
  1. It’s WORSE than this. The #’s are even more disparate if you look closely, AND, that’s not including the affiliated enterprises. Look at the WHOLE tax form.

    IT’s more like a HUNDRED FIFTY FIVE MILLION, AND that’s just the chief organization itself. When you consider the other affiliates, it’s another THIRTY SIX MILLION BUCKS!


    What can we do? I’ve already sent a circulatory email that should reach THOUSANDS this week, but I’m just a small guy.

    I WILL NEVER see this entity supported, ever. I don’t care if they roll over their whole staff, CEO and chief cook and bottle-washer. ONCE a FRAUD, always a fraud.

  2. So amazing to meet some more gun loving free spirits! The tax return speaks volumes! Thank You so much for your support! We are so grateful Mr. Boch for your time and article!
    Dean and Patricia Graham
    Help Indiana Vets

  3. Wow! Are you kidding me! I feel like a total fool having contributed a substantial share of my charitable giving to these guys. NO MORE!

  4. I would have went bankrupt several times if it wasn’t for Wounded Warrior Project I don’t care if they are anti gun they are awesome!
    The VA’s pay is hardly enough to get by and they do not care how far you go into debt while transitioning from Active Duty pay to their BS retirement pay.

    They also helped my mom come to see me while I was in the hospital.. And helped her pay her bills so that she would not get too far behind while in DC with me.

    1. I would also like to know what type if financial help they offered. When my husband was hospitalized, I contacted them to get help with paying our bills- they gave me names and numbers of OTHER groups because they said try don’t do that type of thing.

    2. I dont give to this charity for several reasons, aside from the very real reasons listed here about thier “overhead” and paid exec’s. Personally, and others may differ on thier opinions here, I dont give to orgs who are paying for vacations,hunts-(not that Im against hunting, trips, ect ect. I think the money, which is in short supply, should go to living expenses where they can actually provide more VITAL HELP to more veterans-ie: medical bills and devices not covered by VA, funeral services, Physical therapy,outdoor wheelchairs, ect , stuff that isnt covered under thier benefits. If companies want to donate vacations, hunts ect thats fine, but the biggest need is actual CARE> This org wastes funds paying celebs, execs, and what it does give out, while Im sure is occassionally appropriate, is usually only trip hand outs while other vets need medical care and more vital help, its a priority issue.

  5. I recall them also snubbing religious organizations as well.
    Glad I hesitated giving because of the first snafu.
    God and guns made this country great!

  6. The Tampa Bay Times investigated – 58% of funds raised werer used for veteran related support – 42% administrative or other. When you consider over 150 million dollars a year that’s 60 MILLION DOLLARS a year spent on other than veterans.

    Consider Toys for Tots that averages less than 10%. To put into perspective they spend slightly more on veterans than they spend on themselves.

    Too bad all the perks aren’t listed – those are in the salary/benefits of the officers.

    1. Tim,

      There’s an accounting process (gimmick?) known as “Joint Cost Allocation” where fundraising expenses are re-classified across several categories, obscuring the true among of monies spent on fundraising.

      “Veteran-related support” could be millions in fundraising expenses, reclassified because of messages on the backs of envelopes saying “support disabled veterans” as one example.

      They gave less than six million in grants – that’s the true measure of their mission. Not even six million of 150 raised.

      I tell you what: I’ll run WWP for $50k a year and I’ll make sure a whole lot more than 5.5M goes to grants…

  7. To see any charitable organization’s numbers, go to give.org and click on list of organizations, go to the organization you are looking for and click on that. Then click on “full report” and you can see how much the director is paid and percentage of your dollar that goes to administration and to the cause.

  8. That tears it. I am washing my hands of the Wounded Warrior Project. I know if I give my hard earned $ to the American Legion all of it goes to the cause. Dues take care of operating expenses. Also the Salvation Army is a good organization that most of the donations go to the cause.

  9. Why is Wounded Warrior Project suing Help Indiana Vets? How much does it cost WWP to fly four lawyers in from Nebraska?

  10. Mr. Graham should avail himself of a good resource on how to read IRS Form 990, such as the one from the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York (http://www.npccny.org/new990/new990.htm).

    For Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), the information in Form 990 has been audited by an independent firm of CPAs. The audited financial statements of WWP are available on its website.

    If Mr. Graham understood Form 990, he would find that according to the 2011 Form 900 for the WWP, 73% of its expenses were for program activities to provide vital programs and services to severrly wounded service members, i.e., the activities forming its basis for exemption from tax. It was not “pennies on the dollar” as Mr. Graham stated. The balance of the expenses for WWP were for 6% for management and general administrative, and 21% for fund raising.

    What do watchdog groups say should be spent on program activity? The BBB Wise Giving Alliance recommends that nonprofits spend at least 65% of its annual expenses on program activity, while the American Institute of Philanthropy sets its minimum standard at 60% of expenses. The WWP exceeds both of these recommendations by spending 73% on program activity.

    Because WWP provides services directly to veterans, it is not necessary for WWP to make grants to other organizations to provide services. This is why the grants given to other organizations by WWP totaled only $5.5 million dollars.

    Of the $21 million in salaries, 85% (nearly $18 million) was for program activities such as combat stress recovery, physical health & rehabilitation, family support services, and Warriors to Work, among others, that WWP provides. How does WWP set the compensation of its Mr. Nardizzi, the CEO/Executive Director? An independent compensation consultant makes a recommendation to the Board of Directors based on a compensation study and what comparable organizations pay.

    I have reviewed the IRS Form 990 of nonprofits for 40 years. Based on my review of WWP, it is an outstanding organization.

  11. I heard that Help Indiana Vets filed an answer to the WWP lawsuit. Can any attorneys out there find it? Also WWP can spin the tax return however they want, read it for yourself and form your own opinion.

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