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Report: Wounded Warrior Care Official Misused Resources

A Department of Defense inspector general report reveals that a former head of the Pentagon’s Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy Office misused government resources, Military.com reports.

Former head Philip A. Burdette harassed subordinates, and attempted to influence a government contract, all the while calling his employees liars and criminals behind their backs and threatening them with punishment. This created low morale in the office, sustained by Burdette’s constant yelling. Employees testified that Burdette was a bully.

“The department can’t comment on ongoing personnel issues,” DoD spokesman Army Maj. James Brindle, said, when asked whether any concrete action was taken against Burdette. However, according to an unsigned Department of Defense email that TribLive News received on Tuesday, Burdett is still employed as a special adviser to the assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs.

The report was completed on October 11, 2013, but was only released publicly on Monday. Examples of abuse include lengthening an official DOD trip in order to go skiing in Colorado, even using DOD funds to reimburse himself for renting a car to drive up the mountain. At another time, Burdette actually ordered a government employee to work as a caddy for a charity golf event, and then lied about the order, saying his own boss issued it. On other dealings, Burdette invited a particular subcontractor to multiple events, from a White House ceremony in late 2011, to Marine Corps holiday reception, and then promptly attempted to meddle with the contracting process to benefit the subcontractor.

Investigators from the inspector general’s office interviewed 19 witnesses of all positions, from contractors to executives. “We asked [them] if he resolved problems in a constructive manner,” the report said. “No one replied affirmatively; three indicated they were undecided and 16 stated ‘no.’ Further, we asked the same 19 if Mr. Burdette’s leadership inspires and fosters trust: No one replied affirmatively; two were undecided and 17 said ‘no.’ ”

Burdette protested, saying that he was brought in as head of the Wounded Warrior policy office to increase performance, and only occasionally used an elevated voice to achieve his aims. According to Burdette, conflicts were resolved constructively.

The report recommended that disciplinary action be taken against the former head, but it is unclear whether the Pentagon followed through.

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