At first I was a little concerned and still am: Bob Woodruff was supposed to be the one sitting on the panel. I hope that this posting finds him in good health.
That being said, Lee Woodruff is Bob's wife and the co-founder of his Foundation. I was very impressed with her depth of knowledge on issues facing veterans returning home, especially PTSD and TBI. Lee is a lead from the front personality. She understands that we can't tackle these difficult issues sitting behind a desk in Washington and discussing policy. She is out on the front lines of this battle every day, meeting with veterans. She understands their concerns, their hopes.
Lee is not afraid to ask difficult questions. At the same time, she understands that antagonizing the VA or any organization dedicated to the welfare of our country's veterans is counterproductive. Yes, she voices a lot of concerns, but she understands that she and her organization need to work with the existing organizations and infrastructure to effect positive change in the system as a whole. Lee is aware that there are literally thousands of local organizations that want to help, but the bureaucracy in place that runs the current system makes it near impossible to work together. She is working to change that. She also brought to everyone's attention what she calls the 'hidden casualty' of this war: Intimacy
Lee recognizes that medical technology has advanced to the point where guys that are making it home never would have in previous conflicts. She also points out that a lot of these young wounded are concerned that the opposite sex won't be able to see past their wheel chair - that they will never be able to connect with someone romantically, intimately. This doesn't even take into account all of the folks with PTSD or TBI that have difficulties connecting emotionally or intimately with their spouses or loved ones. When we should be enjoying the prime of our lives, we are instead left wondering if we are ever going to be able to enjoy the fruits of our labors, our sacrifices.
As a combat veterans with PTSD, I understood this a long time ago. What I failed to understand is that most of America has no clue. That's got to change and Lee is making sure it does. This is an issue that needs to be on everyone's radar.
*A Message to Lee Woodruff*
I applaud the efforts you and your husband make on the behalf of veterans everywhere. Your compassion for the plight of the young wounded, especially those with TBI or PTSD is a shining example that others should strive to emulate. We had started to discuss the disconnect between local organizations and the national ones when we were unceremoniously shooed out of the room and into the hallway. I would love to continue that discussion and see what we can do to work together to further the cause. Here's my email.
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.