Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bob Woodruff Reports on Iraq Vets with Traumatic Brain Injury

Yesterday Bob Woodruff was interviewed by Oprah, and gave a report, a documentary called "To Iraq and Back, at 10pm on ABC. Just over a year ago, Bob was chosen to co-anchor "World News Tonight" less than a month before he went to Iraq. Imbedded with the 4th Infantry Division, Bob was "injured" when an improvised explosive device, IED, struck their armored personnel carrier north of Taji during a combined operation of Iraqi Army and Coalition Forces.

While "the media" dutifully reports on the numbers of war dead, the true toll of the war is shunted aside. Partly due to state of the art battlefield emergency treatment, war wounded survive in numbers not seen in previous wars. Is the number of those returning war vets acurately reported? What is the nature of their "disabilities?" Is Bob Woodruff a good example of the recovery we can expect for war vets injured in the Iraq war? These and other questions were raised by Bob in his documentary.


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 dental problems."


Bob notes that Traumatic Brain Injury, TBI, which is what he suffered from the blast, is not on the list of "injuries" and questions how many Iraq vets have TBI. Listening to the symptoms I began to wonder how many vets suffered a milder form of TBI due to being hit in an arm or leg, losing the arm, and later the TBI being misdiagnosed as PTSD or some kind of mental illness. The film revealed that it is highly possible, more than likely that 150 thousand Iraq war vets have suffered TBI. Bob has teamed up with the Brain Injury Association of America as their "Poster Boy." I am hoping, however, now that Bob has joined the ranks of People With Disabilities, PWDs, he will go beyond the image, and take the lead in helping Americans understand that when a person becomes a PWD s/he shouldn't lose his or her Civil Rights.

The shocking expose of our failure to "support" our troops should bring folks to action. After all, it is so much cheaper to "treat" a veteran dxed with PTSD or "mental illness," (give them a prescription and send them home,) than to take the time to dx TBI and then provide the appropiate rehab.

Are we shortchanging our vets?

Do PWDs have a right to a correct diagnosis?

2 Comments:

At Wednesday, February 28, 2007 4:29:00 PM, Anonymous Connie said...

Hi Kathy,

I saw the special last night also. Nice job summarizing what we heard. And what a great job Bob Woodruff and team are doing bringing this issue to our full attention.

 
At Wednesday, February 28, 2007 4:43:00 PM, Blogger Kathy Podgers said...

Thanks for your nice comment, Connie. We should all be thankful for Bob's willingness to go public and lend his support to this painful truth.

What really got me when I watched the interview was the comment about coming in gor dental treatment. Sigh.

Now I wonder what the media will do with this story? Will this be allowed to fade away? back to the comfort of "out of sight, out of mind?"

 

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