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David Woodruff testifies before California State Senate Health Committee

Posted: January 13, 2010 12:42 p.m.
Updated: January 14, 2010 12:38 p.m.
 
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- David Woodruff, co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation and brother of ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff, who was severely injured by a roadside bomb while reporting from Iraq, testified today before California's State Senate Health Committee.

In a moving tribute to the incredible hardships and sacrifices faced by service members and their families, Woodruff recounted his own family's struggles during his brother's long and painstaking recovery from the traumatic brain injuries he sustained in Iraq. Woodruff also plainly detailed the advantages afforded his brother throughout his recovery, contrasting the reality for many injured veterans.

It is a discrepancy that inspired the founding of the Bob Woodruff Foundation and its initiative ReMIND.org, dedicated to raising awareness of the emotional and psychological pain, post-traumatic stress and brain injuries suffered by service members in combat. These devastating, complicated and hidden injuries often go unnoticed or untreated, leaving returning service members to struggle alone with the effects and symptoms.

"Throughout Bob's recovery, our family surrounded ourselves with service members who had sustained similar injuries," David Woodruff testified. "Bob's road to recovery was not riddled with the same administrative snares or limited treatment options that so many injured service members and their families endure, nor the difficulties reintegrating back into his community. Despite the challenges these families face each day, the bravery and steely resolve we have seen in the eyes of children, spouses and parents who care for their injured service members each day have inspired us."

Woodruff went on to detail the sobering statistics of returning service members. While one in 50 service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan has suffered physical combat injuries, one in five has sustained hidden brain injuries. Difficult to treat in the best circumstances, recovery is often impeded by a military culture that stigmatizes screenings and treatment, as well as bureaucracy and lack of resources when service members return home. The results are shocking rates of suicides, substance abuse, homelessness and divorce.

"My question is, as a government, are we doing all that we can to prevent, screen, diagnose and treat our injured?" Woodruff asked. "As civilians do we support them, empower them, ensure that they thrive in our communities when they return? Our veterans cannot manage this journey alone, sustain this pace and continue to thrive at home and abroad. They need us."

"David Woodruff, along with the entire Woodruff family, knows firsthand the pain and hardship of having a loved one injured in combat," said Rene Bardorf, Executive Director of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. "But they also know that many military families have their hardships compounded by lack of resources and understanding. The Bob Woodruff Foundation, through ReMIND.org, has collaborated with experts and organizations at all levels to raise awareness and resources for the families who have sacrificed so much. Since its inception, the Foundation has spent nearly $4.5 million on programs, reaching more than 500,000 service members, veterans and their families nationwide. California is home to more veterans than any other state, and David's testimony urged the state senate to devote resources and understanding to help our returning service members reintegrate into the lives they left to serve their country."

About The Bob Woodruff Foundation
The Bob Woodruff Foundation provides resources and support to service members, veterans and their families to successfully reintegrate into their communities so they may thrive physically, psychologically, socially and economically. Through a public education movement called ReMIND.org, The Bob Woodruff Foundation helps educate the public about the needs of service members returning from war -- especially the 1 in 5 service members who have sustained hidden injuries such as Traumatic Brain Injury and Combat Stress, including Post Traumatic Stress, Depression and Anxiety -- and empowers communities nationwide to take action.

Across the country, The Bob Woodruff Foundation collaborates with other organizations and experts to identify and solve issues related to the return of service members from combat to civilian life and invests in programs that connect our troops to the help they need -- from individual needs like physical accommodations, medical care and counseling, to larger social issues like homelessness and suicide. The Bob Woodruff Foundation invested $4.5 million in community programs,
reaching more than 500,000 service members, support personnel, veterans and their families nationwide.

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