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US TV Correspondent Crusades for Brain-Injured Veterans

US TV Correspondent Crusades for Brain-Injured Veterans

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In 2006, ABC News correspondent and television anchorman Bob Woodruff was wounded while covering the war in Iraq. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and was not expected to survive. But Woodruff recovered, determined to help other Americans who were similarly wounded in war.

As a journalist, Bob Woodruff has gone to Iraq several times to report on the progress of the war there. It was on his seventh visit to Iraq, in January 2006, that he was injured.

He was taping a report from a tank on patrol when it was struck by an improvised explosive device.

"This bomb exploded 20 feet on this side, pierced through my head this way," said Bob Woodruff. "The blood was coming out of my neck. The translator who was in the tank with me put his hand over my neck to stop the bleeding. If he had not done that, I would probably not have survived."

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Doctors removed part of Woodruff's skull because his brain was swelling. He was put into a medically induced coma for more than a month because his injuries were so severe. Yet he recovered.

Bob Woodruff is back at ABC. His first television special was on what happened to him and the thousands of U.S. troops who have suffered traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

"Those that have lost their legs or their arms, we know what we need to do to try to get them to walk again, to move again," he said. "But for those that come back with PTSD from multi-deployments in the wars, so that they have been away from their families in very dangerous, frightening situations and those with traumatic brain injury, TBI. That's hard not only to define, but to analyze and ultimately to cure."

But many U.S. veterans do not get the medical care they need. So along with his wife, Lee, Woodruff started the Bob Woodruff Foundation to help injured service members, veterans and their families.

Lee Woodruff says the foundation has raised some $2 million.

"We're asking every American to give $1 dollar for the 1.6 million [military service members] who have cycled through [been on tours of military duty in] Iraq and Afghanistan," said Lee Woodruff.

It is important, she says, because her husband's treatment and recovery are the exception.

"Bob is not the norm," she said. "And so when I talk to families and they say, 'Maybe my husband can come back the way Bob has,' I always try not to over promise because Bob is truly and honestly a miracle. He's a miracle from a medical standpoint [to come back] from his injuries and where they happened, and where they didn't hit [where he wasn't wounded]. And his recovery is miraculous."

The day we visited his home, Bob Woodruff made breakfast for the twins, Nora and Claire, who were six years old when he was wounded. But he says, the violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and how he can make a difference are never far from his mind.