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Former Wounded Warrior leader removed from Department of Defense employment

Tribune-Review
| Tuesday, November 18, 2014 12:01 a.m.
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Department of Defense
Philip A. Burdette (left) testifies before Congress as the principal director for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy

Philip Burdette, removed as the leader of the Department of Defense’s Wounded Warrior programs for physically and mentally injured service members more than a year ago but kept on as a special adviser, is gone from the Pentagon altogether.

Burdette’s departure follows the recent release of an Inspector General’s Office investigation that raked Burdette for bullying subordinates in the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy between 2010 and 2013. The probe alleged a series of questionable acts by Burdette, including bilking taxpayers for a portion of a ski vacation, padding his work hours and attempting to slide a $1.3 million contract extension to an acquaintance.

“Mr. Burdette is no longer employed by the Department of Defense,” Army Maj. James B. Brindle, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday.

Pentagon officials refused to indicate whether Burdette was fired or resigned. “The department cannot comment on personnel issues,” Brindle said.

Burdette did not return messages left by the Tribune-Review.

The IG investigation followed an award-winning series of stories by the Tribune-Review published in early 2011. Using reams of classified military records, the Trib revealed that tens of thousands of wounded, sick and injured military personnel had languished in poorly staffed Warrior Transition units worldwide instead of getting proper medical care, mental health counseling and job training that had been promised by the Pentagon.

Quietly removed from the Wounded Warrior helm in July 2013, Burdette had been kept on as a special adviser to the assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs until the Oct. 27 release of the report.

In his 2013 statement to investigators, Burdette said that the 27 witnesses against him had filed “as many anonymous and unfounded allegations as possible” with the “hope something is substantiated.”

Investigators, however, said that Burdette’s leadership style appeared to rely on “mocking and punishing subordinates,” and they stood by a probe that was based “on documentary evidence as well as sworn testimony of many witnesses.”

Carl Prine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7826 or cprine@tribweb.com.

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