[Marxism] Injured ABC television reporter focuses on neglect of wounded soldiers
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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
Full video of last night's ABC show on Woodruff:
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