Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bob Woodruff's journey

I'm not much of a believer in fate; I think most coincidences are just concidences rather than cospiracies or the work of providence. But the case of Bob Woodruff of ABC News is almost uncanny. It's almost enough to make you believe that maybe, just maybe, he was wounded in Iraq so he would have the knowledge and insight to bring forward the story of how -- well, not always poorly, but haphazardly -- veterans of the Iraq war who have been wounded are treated. (I can say this in part because he has come back so remarkably from his head wound; I'm sure he's far from 100 percent of what he was before, but he seems remarkably composed and competent.)

His special Tuesday night on his experiences and the experiences of military people who have been wounded in Iraq and are fighting to return to a semblance of normality -- some successfully, some not -- was remarkably moving and good television.

America's wounded are part of the cost of this war that we don't appreciate fully. Largely because of medical advances, especially in battlefield medicine, a lot of soldiers and Marines who in previous wars would simply have died on the battlefield, are having their lives saved. Thus the number of Americans killed has been lower than would have been likely in previous wars of similar intensity.

Many of the wounded recover to some semblance of normality, but many will never be more than a shell of their former selves. Some will spend the rest of their lives in hospitals, others in wheelchairs or rehab and physical therapy. The government has little interest in the general public knowing much about this, especially if it would further erode public support for the war.

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