BWF in the News
Finding a New Mission for Soldiers Returning From War (The Wall Street Journal)
November 15, 2011
Even though a war technically ends, the work of caring for soldiers never really stops. Helping soldiers to readjust and thrive physically, psychologically and socially is the singular mission of the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
"I think we all know that the consequences of the wars will continue for the rest of our lives," says Mr. Woodruff, the ABC News anchor who suffered his own critical injury in 2006 while covering the war in Iraq. Together, Mr. Woodruff and his wife, Lee, launched the foundation to support returning soldiers, educate the public about the needs of veterans and raise awareness about traumatic brain injuries. More recently, the organization has expanded its support to caregivers and families of soldiers.
"Families need to heal together," says Ms. Woodruff.
Since 2007, the foundation has awarded 117 grants totaling $9.5 million.
Grants were made to more than 50 charities across the country and included scholarships for wounded veterans to attend a writing program at the National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped, funds to furnish the apartments of homeless veterans living at the Errera Community Care Center in West Haven, Conn., and grants for veterans to receive animal-assisted therapy at the EquiCenter in Rochester, N.Y.
In rare cases, the foundation will step in for a special project only when every other government resource has been exhausted. Word came to the Woodruffs that the mother of a severely injured veteran had to leave her job to regularly drive her son three hours to get to a Veterans Affairs hospital for rehabilitation. The foundation stepped in and funded a small, therapeutic "endless pool" for the family so the soldier could receive therapy at home.
"You've got to do something for the caregivers. We sometimes forget about this," says Mr. Woodruff. "It's one thing to be injured in the war, imagine being a family member who now has to deal with this. I don't think there's enough done for them."
In his years meeting and talking with veterans, Mr. Woodruff says the No. 1 need is employment for veterans or, as he puts it, "another mission." To that end, the foundation has supported a project in California that helps veterans launch a career in farming. Second: helping soldiers to feel less alone and more connected to their community.
The foundation's annual comedy and entertainment event, "Stand Up for Heroes," to be held Wednesday night at the Beacon Theatre, is one such way that the foundation has connected veterans and given families an opportunity to just relax. Some 60 veterans and guests are flown to New York and put up in hotels for the gala and three days of fun.Click here to view more.