Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Back From Iraq: Bob Woodruff Reports

Just saw this report on ABC. As you may know, Bob Woodruff, former nightly co-anchor of ABC's World News Tonight, was injured in January of last year when, reporting from Iraq, an IED went off near the tank he was a passenger in. He suffered a major brain injury and went through months of rehabilitation. He was able to regain his powers of speech, cognition, motion, and generally is back to a place near to where he was before the incident.

He's one lucky man.

Woodruff's ordeal was updated during the first part of the show, but a tad more than half of the production was devoted to the extent and degree of severe brain injuries suffered by American soldiers in Iraq. One of the contentions in the documentary is that a lot of the information regarding the number of brain injuries and injuries in general of Iraq War veterans has not been released due to the possible reaction of the American public. There is also a dispute over the number of brain injuries as the Veterans Administration does not list them under their own category. (Click here and scroll down for a Powerpoint on injuries of American soldiers in Iraq.) National security may also play a part in the media's silence about the number of overall injuries from the war. This does begin to address the issue of whether the Bush Administration purposefully obscures or fudges these numbers for their own benefit.

Woodruff spoke with or met some of those who suffered the same type of severe injury to the brain as he did, most of whom have not made the healing leap that Woodruff has over the last year and two months.

Paul Reickhoff was inviewed for the production. I cried for 45 minutes. I hope this program helps bring to light the medical care and attention being paid to American soldiers. Woodruff's report and comes pretty close in timing to the devastating story from the Washington Post on conditions at Walter Reed Hospital (though reports on the hospital and general V.A. conditions and lack of readiness to prepare for soldier/patient homecomings from Salon.com (subscription or view ad) appeared as early as 2005). I also hope it brings to light that there is a war actually going on. Sometimes, I don't know if we are aware of the war except for the 'sis-boom-rah' and "go team USA" quality of it all or if we hear about it over the back and forth verbal slinging Americans are doing in regards to it.

The Woodruff Family has established the "Bob Woodruff Family Fund for Traumatic Brain Injury." The website has information regarding the Fund. ABC also has a website with collections of clips entitled, "The Home Front" which "takes an in-depth look at the war's wounded and the challenges they face once they leave the battlefield and return home."

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