As American’s attention has moved away from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the reporters who covered the war in Iraq for these past 10 years have largely moved on to other assignments. However, all of those journalists, whatever they may have gone on to do, take the experience of the war with them, and in a few cases they have become the story.
Bob Woodruff is a reporter for ABC News and the founder of The Bob Woodruff Foundation, which provides resources and support to injured service members, veterans and their families. In 2006, he was nearly killed by an 155mm improvised explosive device.
"All of the rocks and the metal and the air blast knocked me out, pierced through left part of my jaw, shattered my back, my scapula, and then some of these rocks went right in front of my eye into my nose," explains Woodruff of that day. "I wasn’t blinded, although I am blinded in one fourth of both of my eyes because of the impact of falling into the tank. The other rocks, two of them the size of marbles, went all the way in, one of them is still there, the other one went miraculously past the veins and the arteries and the trachea and the esophagus and stopped one millimeter from piercing through the artery. Another millimeter and I wouldn’t be here."
Woodruff woke up 36 days later having undergone a craniectomy that removed the left part of his skull. He had suffered a traumatic brain injury, which in many ways is the signature of the Iraq War. Some 400,000 U.S. veterans suffer from some form of brain injury.
"Everybody in the military, those that are injured like me, they call it a live day — the day that you should be dead, but we're not," says Woodruff. "And that means things have returned to something resembling what it was before. And for many others, so many far worse than me, that have not returned to something even close to the way they were before. Let's not forget those guys that are injured and survived this war."