A WOUNDED CELEBRITY JOURNALIST ASKS WHY THE GOVERNMENT IS SHORTCHANGING WOUNDED TROOPS
Bob Woodruff -- the ABC anchorman who suffered a brain injury from an IED in Iraq -- is now back on TV and has a new book out. I expected his reemergence to be just a three-hanky tale of triumph over adversity, and it certainly is that, but he's also talking about soldiers who, unlike him, are struggling to get the care they need:
... Woodruff meets soldiers who, after fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, must fight bureaucratic red tape before receiving the treatment they need, and others who may not even know they're injured, as traumatic brain injury can go unrecognized....
Many of the families Woodruff met with across the country express frustration at the lack of care TBI [traumatic brain injury] patients receive once they leave specialized rehabilitation centers and return home.
... following brain-injured Army Sgt. Michael Boothby from Bethesda back to the soldier's hometown of Comfort, Texas, Woodruff watches Boothby's condition quickly deteriorate as he awaits the arrival of the paperwork that would allow him to continue his treatment....
A Woodruff TV special will air tonight. The New York Times review of the show recounts the disgusting response he gets when he points out that certain numbers don't add up:
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."
This is not what the Bushies need right now -- a very sympathetic TV reporter on a book tour calling them on their failure to do right by wounded servicemembers. I wonder what they'll do -- accuse him of citing accurate but embarrassing stats just to sell his book? Charge him with undermining the troops' morale? Dig up some years-old story he did and mine it for evidence of political bias?
I don't know -- but after this and the Washington Post series, you can expect Bush to be posing with a lot of extremely grateful-seeming wounded troops very, very soon.