RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) has been under fire recently for wasting money meant for veterans on parties and exorbitant salaries. But did you know that the organization started here in Virginia?
John and Jim Melia created the charity back in 2003. Its mission was to provide comfort items to injured vets. But according to Jim Melia, who lives here in Richmond, the charity has lost its way.
“I think the executive leadership of the project lost its soul,” says Melia.
It would be an understatement to say he is disappointed by the recent scandal surrounding the WWP. Jim’s an Army vet. His brother John is a Marine who was injured in a helicopter crash in Somalia. After he returned home, he was appalled at how injured vets were treated.
“He decided he would start assembling comfort packs for the wounded warriors,” Jim explains. “We delivered them to Walter Reed Hospital and Walter Reed called back a couple weeks later and said, ‘we’d like 50 more backpacks,’ and at that point we knew we were on to something.”
Both brothers left the organization in 2010 in what they believed were capable hands. But following the firing of the project’s CEO and COO, Jim and his brother question the charity’s leadership.
“I think that they forgot that the mission was for the veterans not for the executives,” he says. “They paid more attention to corporate donors and branding then they did to the vets and the individual donors.”
The Melia’s now want back in. There is a Facebook effort and a petition to restore trust in the Wounded Warrior Project by returning John to the helm of the organization he founded. They’ve reached out to the chairman of the board.
“He is a good quality man,” John adds. “We think he needs help. We’re offering that help. Again, we did it once, we can do it again.”
Despite their efforts, the Melia’s say they haven’t heard back from any of the board members at the Wounded Warrior Project. They said they have also been blocked from posting on the charity’s Facebook page.
If you’d like more information on how they hope to restore trust to the organization, click here.