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Helping Warriors Find Hope and Purpose: Meet Wounded Warrior Project CEO Walter E. Piatt

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Walter E. Piatt, center, his wife Cynthia, and Secretary of the U.S. Army Christine E. Wormuth, left, during Piatt’s retirement ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, Jan. 5, 2024. Piatt retired after serving over 40 years in the U.S. Army. (U.S. Army photo by Christopher Kaufmann)
Secretary of the U.S. Army Christine E. Wormuth, left, presents the Distinguished Service Medal to U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt during his retirement ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, Jan. 5, 2024. (U.S. Army photo by Christopher Kaufmann)

The dedication and commitment to serve others runs deep for Army Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Walter E. Piatt, who became chief executive officer at Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) on March 18, 2024. Walt enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 17 upon the advice of his father, a steel mill worker in western Pennsylvania. For 42 years, he guided and cared for troops and ensured their families were supported – all while protecting the country and the freedoms Americans deserve.

Walt joins WWP ready to continue this commitment. Serving the evolving needs of wounded veterans is at the core of WWP – and delivering this promise to the warriors, caregivers, and family support members WWP supports is a priority for Walt.

In this Q&A, we talk with Walt to learn why he joined WWP.

Question: What fuels your passion for Wounded Warrior Project’s mission?

Walt: I wanted to be part of Wounded Warrior Project because of my love for the mission and vision of this organization. I tell people that I wasn’t looking for a job so soon after retiring. But I was looking for purpose. That’s why I joined this organization. Nothing could be greater than bringing men and women home and putting them on a path of hope and purpose.

My passion for the mission of WWP stems from a deep belief that our military members deserve unwavering support. Having spent a lifetime in military service, I understand the sacrifices service members make and the challenges they face. I’ve had a front-row seat in witnessing the brave men and women who give their hearts to give us freedom.

Veterans deserve our help long after leaving active duty. Help is more than just helping them heal; our nation’s veterans deserve to thrive – personally, professionally, spiritually, and within their communities. The opportunity to help them find their paths of hope and offer that support is what drives me.

Question: Can you describe your journey through the military?

Walt: What a journey that’s been. I enlisted in the U.S. Army during my senior year of high school. I was 17 years old with a strong desire to be a soldier. I joined as a private and left as a sergeant after four years to attend college.

During college, I became a lieutenant through ROTC. After that, I served in Korea for two years. Following Korea, I found myself in New Jersey, where I married my wife, Cynthia. As newlyweds, we moved to Fort Moore (Georgia) before making the biggest move of our lives. We were off to the jungles of Panama. I worked there as a Brigade S1, and later became a company commander. After my two children were born, we left Panama, and I started my next chapter as a major at Fort Drum (New York).

Walt Piatt first joined the U.S. Army at age 17 as a private. Photo courtesy of Walt Piatt.
Walt Piatt first joined the U.S. Army at age 17 as a private. Photo courtesy of Walt Piatt.

Question: What excites you most about joining Wounded Warrior Project?

Walt: I’m most excited to listen and learn from the voices of those this organization serves. I’m also excited to elevate the support Wounded Warrior Project provides and to help lay the foundation for a better future.

I recognize that I will not solve the challenges veterans face in my first 100 days or even the next five years. I’ll most likely never accept that we’ve helped everyone either, that we’ve reached every veteran we can.

My focus for the future, though, is to stay true to our mission. We must leverage innovation and compassion to advance the organization’s work and meet the changing needs of warriors and their families. I’m excited to lead Wounded Warrior Project in adapting, evolving, and standing ready to serve – because veterans deserve nothing less.

Question: What lessons have you gained throughout your military career that have shaped your leadership approach?

Walt: I’ve been a soldier my entire adult life and am proud to be a soldier. Many of the values I honor today are from lessons I learned in the Army.

I learned to be better, and to seek new perspectives without fear. I learned not to judge but to accept the differences of others and meet them where they are. I learned to listen without judgment. To speak without shouting. And lastly, to live with empathy.

These are the values I fought for as a soldier and the ones I bring with me in this next chapter.

Question: What is one thing you would want civilians to understand about military service members?

Walt: One thing? I have one, and I believe it’s a very powerful message. Those who serve in our nation’s military, including myself, deeply love our country. Due to this love, we’ve stood guard, faced danger head-on, and carried the weight of freedom on our shoulders.

My sacrifices while in service were worth it, and I think most of my fellow veterans would agree. When people tell me, “Thank you for your service,” I look right at them and say, ‘You’re worth it, and so is this country.’ By supporting veterans, we not only show our gratitude for their service but also uphold the values that make our country strong and resilient.

As Walt embarks on this journey as CEO, he promises to put the WWP mission at the forefront of all his endeavors.

Contact: Kendra Hand, Public Relations,, 904.776.7099

About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.

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