[Marxism] Injured ABC television reporter focuses on neglect of wounded soldiers

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Feb 28 10:10:11 MST 2007


The New York Times, February 27, 2007
One Man's Survival Story Becomes a Rallying Cry
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY

It was many weeks before ABC's Bob Woodruff realized how lucky he was to 
survive a roadside bomb explosion in Iraq in January 2006. It took months 
for him to understand how lucky he was to recover as fully as he did.

Few do. And that is one of the more sobering lessons of ''To Iraq and 
Back,'' Mr. Woodruff's account of his ordeal on ABC tonight. Many veterans 
with similar traumatic brain injuries may never fully regain their ability 
to speak, walk or pick up a glass of water.

''I've seen probably less than five that have actually been able to walk 
back into the I.C.U. and thank us for what we did,'' Alison Bischoff, one 
of the nurses who treated Mr. Woodruff at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in 
Maryland, says in this documentary. ''So, to me, he's a miracle.''

Mr. Woodruff, who makes a point of saying he was privileged to receive the 
''best civilian and military care in the world,'' wants viewers to know 
that veterans with traumatic brain injuries who rely solely on Veterans 
Affairs medical centers do not always receive the same quality of care.

''To Iraq and Back'' is remarkably compelling, mostly because the 
documentary, while moving, is not just a heart-wrenching portrait of one 
man's courageous struggle. Mr. Woodruff and his wife, Lee, have published a 
book about their experience, ''In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love 
and Healing,'' and will soon be telling their inspiring tale to Diane 
Sawyer, Oprah Winfrey and others.

On this ABC News special, Mr. Woodruff tells his story with candor and 
restraint, then turns the focus to the men and women who return badly 
wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan and do not heal as thoroughly.

Mr. Woodruff was named co-anchor of ''World News Tonight'' less than a 
month before he went to Iraq. His injury was a huge story and a milestone 
in the public's perception of the war; it was already all too obvious that 
soldiers, American and Iraqi, were wounded and killed by roadside bombs and 
ambushes every day. But the explosion that injured Mr. Woodruff and, to a 
lesser extent, Doug Vogt, a cameraman, dramatically brought home how 
vulnerable all Americans, even visiting anchors, are over there.

Like celebrities who battle cancer, H.I.V. or Parkinson's disease, Mr. 
Woodruff decided to put his fame and experience to public use. And like so 
many people fueled by a sense of mission, he seeks government accountability.

The film notes that the Department of Defense puts the number of men and 
women wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan at about 23,000, while the Department 
of Veterans Affairs has recorded treating more than 200,000 veterans of 
those two wars. Paul Sullivan, the director of programs at the advocacy 
group Veterans for America, says, ''What you have are two sets of books.''

Mr. Woodruff politely asks the secretary of veterans affairs, R. James 
Nicholson, to explain the discrepancy. Citing department reports that list 
73,000 mental disorders, 61,000 diseases of the nervous system and others, 
Mr. Woodruff says, ''These are huge numbers beyond the 23,000.''

Mr. Nicholson, a Vietnam veteran and a former chairman of the Republican 
National Committee, replies, ''A lot of them come in for, for dental 
problems.''

(clip)

===

Full video of last night's ABC show on Woodruff:

http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=2909129

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