Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Reality of the Iraq War:
Documentary on Injured Soldiers Wakes Me Up!

This blog entry is in honor of my Dad. He served in WWII and although he never encountered battle on the front line, he had a special heart and empathy for the people who served in all branches of our military. So please sit back and read this'll wake you up.

Last night, I watched the ABC News special title Bob Woodruff: To Iraq and Back. It made me see a side of this war that I never really saw before. Every day we hear things like "10 Soliders Killed in Helicopter Crash" or "3 Dead in Troop Carrier Blast." Yes, this is a sad reality of the war, but these boys come home, we honor them, we bury them and yes, we forget about them.

The really sad part that we don't see because the media deems it too traumatic to show are those troops who return injured and must try to fit back into society...a society that does not want to hear about all of the medical problems these kids have incurred. For some, the care will last a lifetime. Bob Woodruff really brought that point home to me and the people I was watching it with last night. The shock may have been surprising, but it made me wake up.

Woodruff was there and although he wasn't a soldier, he experience the pain and suffering that each soldier AND their families goes through. The story of Bob Woodruff and his recovery is remarkable. On January 29, 2006, ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff was severely injured in Iraq when his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb. Woodruff, who was wounded along with cameraman Doug Vogt, sustained multiple life-threatening injuries, including a devastating brain injury. In his first on-air reporting since the incident, Woodruff tells the incredible story of his life-altering injury and miraculous recovery.

In this one-hour special, Woodruff returns to the field to report the stories of brave young soldiers and Marines who, like him, are recovering from traumatic brain injury – the signature injury of the war in Iraq. Woodruff takes a closer look at the challenges they and their families face as they struggle not only to heal from their wounds, but to get the care they deserve.

Often called the signature wound of the Iraq war, TBI can rob people of themselves, causing problems that range from trouble speaking and concentrating to violence, anger and a loss of "filter". Bob's family established the Bob Woodruff Family Fund for Traumatic Brain Injury to raise awareness about TBI, and to raise money to support organizations that help those suffering from TBI to receive the best care possible.

According to a July 2006 report from the Veterans Administration inspector general, brain injured veterans often fall through the cracks. It found that "multiple factors lead to suboptimal access to care" and "services are often very limited in communities where injured veterans live."

According to the Department of Defense, there have been about 23,000 nonfatal battlefield casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. But through an internal VA report, Woodruff discovered that there are more than 200,000 veterans who have sought out the VA for care.

"What you have are two sets of books," says Paul Sullivan, who served in the first Gulf War and is now an advocate for Veterans. "The Department of Defense saying that there's 23,000 wounded from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the Department of Veterans' Affairs is actually treating 205,000 veterans from these two wars."

The force from an IED or roadside bomb can rattle the brain so severely inside the skull that it can cause life long health problems.

His situation brings to light that many more soldiers serving in Iraq or having returned from battle, may be walking around with a traumatic brain injury and not even know it. That could mean of the 1.5 million Americans, who have served or are now serving, more than 150,000 people could have a brain injury that is unrecognized by the Department of Defense.

Bob Woodruff suffered a painstakingly slow recovery, through intensive speech and cognitive therapy, reading, writing, and forcing his brain to accomplish simple tasks he had previously taken for granted. As he healed, he became determined to help shed light on traumatic brain injury (TBI), to make something good come out of such a tragic experience for him and his family.

Let's look at the reality of this war. It's not just the kids who die...that's sad enough. What got me is how we, as Americans, don't get off our asses and help these boys and girls out. They went over there to protect our freedom and yet we really don't know much about them.

Bob Woodruff and his family have started a foundation called the Bob Woodruff Family Fund for Traumatic Brain Injury (Click on that link there in bold to learn more!) to raise money and assist members of the military with cognitive rehabilitation and other care needs following traumatic brain injury suffered in service to their country. Check Out this foundation and may drop them a couple of'll feel better for doing so.

Finally, you need to see this documentary. ABC News will be putting this online tomorrow morning for all to see. If you get the chance, watch it. It will be well worth the time you take. To see it, click here ->

And by the way, make my Dad proud!