ABC News this morning gave reporters a sneak peak of the documentary about Bob Woodruff‘s near-death and recovery and how his family — as well as the other soldiers and Marines who’ve been through the same, usually with much less positive results — have dealt with it. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)– what Woodruff suffered — is a big part of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, because as helmets and other protective gear improve, as well as medical techniques for keeping military men and women alive, more of those who come back end up living with brain trauma.
After screening the documentary, “To Iraq and Back,” which airs tomorrow evening, Woodruff, ABC News president David Westin and executive producer Tom Yellin spoke to a room of about two dozen people(including reporters David Bianculli, Howard Kurtz, and mediabistro’s Dylan Stableford and Dorian Benkoil), acknowledging that even six months ago he probably wouldn’t have been able to handle such a conversation. With his once-shattered skull rebuilt with a plastic, he looked his old self — the same sparkle in his blue eyes, quick wit, a full head of his own dark black hair, and just a few small scars on his face.
But he also sometimes had trouble finding a word, for example once saying “news” when he meant “knowledge” and not being able to come up with the word “intestines” — signs that he has not completely recovered; he said he probably never will fully. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever anchor again — something he says was never his main goal — but is eager to report on the story of soldiers’ injuries and recovery, and then other stories down the line.
Woodruff, fluent in Chinese, speaking privately, also threw out a few sentences in Chinese and also in Japanese, a sign of how far he has come since only about a year ago when, as shown in the documentary, he had trouble identifying “scissors” from a picture card.
More to come …