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View Full Version : Is Bob Woodruff mentally retarded? Who is writing these books? - 03/09/2007


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09-05-2018, 05:11 PM
Interview with Charlie Rose:

“Bump on the head Bob” with his wife and Charlie Rose coaching him.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/48/Bob_Woodruff_2015.jpg/220px-Bob_Woodruff_2015.jpg

Bob and Lee Woodruff share their book, "In an instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing" chronicling Bob's experience after he was critically wounded in Iraq by a roadside bomb while he was on assignment.


04:59
Charlie Rose: Did you say that you saw your body sort of floating away in - in some sense of separation from body?
05:05
Bob Woodruff: Well, what happened when I -- when I got hit, you know, I think what these IEDs do is they send out kind of a big blast in front, that is even before -- and then followed by that are the rocks and the metal --
05:18
Charlie Rose: Right.
05:20
Bob Woodruff: -- whatever might come behind it. So at first you get hit by that.
So I didn't even feel the rocks and things hit me. But I just went out. And I was out for about a minute. Then that moment, what I do remember, and one of the - one of the only memories that I have from that beginning was I saw my body floating, beneath me, underneath. And then I - and I - I saw like whiteness around in the area. And then after one minute I woke up again. And I went back down into the tank. I had fallen into the tank. And I asked if we -- if we -- if we had lived or if we had died. And they said we are alive.
05:51
Charlie Rose: You asked, are we alive?
05:53
Bob Woodruff: Yeah. I asked if we are alive.
05:58
Charlie Rose: And what -- who said yes, we are alive?
05:59
Bob Woodruff: Vinnie who is my assistant out there --
06:01
Charlie Rose: Assistant.
06:03
Bob Woodruff: I'm sorry.
06:04
Lee Woodruff: He was your producer.
06:06
Bob Woodruff: Producer. Every once in a while in my brain, like the words don't always come out. Yes, and then also Doug Vogt, who was my cameraman. And I asked them.


https://charlierose.com/videos/11280#

:00
Charlie Rose: CHARLIE ROSE:Bob Woodruff, ABC News correspondent and his wife Lee Woodruff join me now. Bob had been co-anchor of ABC News's "World News Tonight" for less than a month when he was severely injured while reporting from Iraq. It happened January 29th, 2006. Here is the video from ABC News of that day.
00:23
Unidentified Male: This is one of the fixed base areas that the Iraqi military's protecting. While we were at access point two an Iraqi patrol rolled by. And Bob wanted to know if he could ride along with them to experience an Iraqi patrol firsthand. And so I put them into the back of the vehicle. Then I closed the doors behind him. And I felt pretty comfortable that everything was going to be OK. Almost immediately Doug had gone up one of the tank hatches. I'm filming the scenery, the driver, the other vehicles. And then Bob asked me if it was possible to do a stand- up there. And I said well, it's really, really noisy but you can try if you want. The tank noise was so loud. His vice was just lost in this rumbling of this tank. So we decided it's not going to work, just forget it. So Bob had come back down. And we had a discussion. He said OK. But you know Bob can't stay crouched down in a tank for more than ten seconds. And so he immediately popped up, at this time into the other tank hole where Doug was. I was filling the coconut grove and then the Iraqi gunner said to me this is a very bad area because there is lots of insurgents there. And I thought this is probably a good place for us to get down. And shortly after he said that.
01:52
Charlie Rose: It has been a long road to recovery for Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee. He returned to >>ABC News with a documentary called "To Iraq and Back" it was about his experiences. They have written a book about it: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing." I'm pleased to have them join me at this table. Welcome.
02:08
Lee Woodruff: Thank you.
02:10
Charlie Rose: It's great to have you here.
02:13
Lee Woodruff: It's great to be here.
02:15
Bob Woodruff: Thanks for inviting us.
02:17
Charlie Rose: Well, listen, you and I have seen each other a couple of times since you're back. And it is just great to see you back.
02:23
Bob Woodruff: I think it's funny, a year and a half before -- since I was here last.
02:26
Charlie Rose: On the program. But then you and I've seen each other --
02:29
Bob Woodruff: Oh, yeah, yeah.
02:31
Charlie Rose: -- at a couple of social events around when I -- anyway, it's just great to see you. It's great to have this book here. Tell me how the book came about, and then we'll talk about this experience. This idea of documenting this journey.
02:43
Lee Woodruff: What had happened. Well, that's exactly how it started was sort of as my journal in the hospital, for two reasons. One, it was cathartic.
02:49
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
02:51
Lee Woodruff: I would come home from these horrible days with him. And I just had to make sense of it. And secondly I knew as a journalist, he would wake up, I hoped, I prayed, and would want to know exactly what had happened. And I wanted to be able to tell him. And then it just grew into something as I watched the other wives, the other families; it became clear to me that we had a story to tell. And even the doctors in the hospital said you have to write about this. You are a writer. You need to write about this, people need to understand what is happening.
03:15
Charlie Rose: Understand, why is it important to understand?
03:16
Lee Woodruff: Because there was this whole epidemic of soldiers, and still is, who are suffering from the concussive effects of the IEDs and traumatic brain injury. And nobody really understood what was going on inside the walls of Bethesda Naval. So they were wanting me to write it from trying to explain traumatic brain injury to a population that never had heard the term. And they had said to me we are raising a generation, this will be the legacy of this next generation.
03:41
Charlie Rose: You, let me take you back now. You have done this in a documentary - you've been on an Oprah doing this, you have talked about it. So I know it is repeating things you have already done. But bear with me. You were in Iraq. You were on a mission to -- and when you were hit. Tell me what you remember about that.
04:01
Bob Woodruff: Well, I remember that the couple of days leading up to when this happened. We were out traveling around with some of the American military guys as well as the Iraqi ones that they were now trying to give more power over to, to try to get them that take over some of the work that had to be done in places like Taji, which is just north of Baghdad. And until that moment we are now in a vehicle, the second day that we are out there. And I really wanted to see inside this Iraqi tank. And see how they were doing. And just take and go with them instead of with the Americans. And at one moment we were up, out the top of the tank. And then I don't really remember but an explosion went off.
04:43
Charlie Rose: But you do remember the couple of minutes before it, don't you?
04:47
Bob Woodruff: Oh, sure. I remember -- you know, it is just sort of hard for me to tell right now if I remember them or if I just reviewed some of these video that we have got from that time. But yes, I do remember some of the traveling around with them.
04:59
Charlie Rose: Did you say that you saw your body sort of floating away in - in some sense of separation from body?
05:05
Bob Woodruff: Well, what happened when I -- when I got hit, you know, I think what these IEDs do is they send out kind of a big blast in front, that is even before -- and then followed by that are the rocks and the metal --
05:18
Charlie Rose: Right.
05:20
Bob Woodruff: -- whatever might come behind it. So at first you get hit by that. So I didn't even feel the rocks and things hit me. But I just went out. And I was out for about a minute. Then that moment, what I do remember, and one of the - one of the only memories that I have from that beginning was I saw my body floating, beneath me, underneath. And then I - and I - I saw like whiteness around in the area. And then after one minute I woke up again. And I went back down into the tank. I had fallen into the tank. And I asked if we -- if we -- if we had lived or if we had died. And they said we are alive.
05:51
Charlie Rose: You asked, are we alive?
05:53
Bob Woodruff: Yeah. I asked if we are alive.
05:58
Charlie Rose: And what -- who said yes, we are alive?
05:59
Bob Woodruff: Vinnie who is my assistant out there --
06:01
Charlie Rose: Assistant.
06:03
Bob Woodruff: I'm sorry.
06:04
Lee Woodruff: He was your producer.
06:06
Bob Woodruff: Producer. Every once in a while in my brain, like the words don't always come out. Yes, and then also Doug Vogt, who was my cameraman. And I asked them.
06:16
Charlie Rose: They were both injured?
06:18
Bob Woodruff: Well, Doug was hurt.
06:19
Charlie Rose: Yes.
06:21
Bob Woodruff: He was - he was hit also at the top. He was just to the side of me. So the blow actually came this way, hit me first and then him. He also got hit in the head. And he actually got a small piece of his skull that was removed later on too. He had fallen down on top of the tank. This - this was what has been told to me since because obviously I don't remember this at all from there. He had fallen down and he couldn't really move. And finally they grabbed his legs from inside the tank and pulled him down in. And he was, he was never really knocked out. But he was able to then walk around after that. But he had some major blood coming out of his face. I remember looking at him when I woke. That is another thing that I remember is seeing Doug's face. Right across from me just when I asked him if we were alive. I could see the blood coming down his - his face. And I saw his eyes were large, afraid. And that was pretty much all I remembered.
07:11
Charlie Rose: When you heard, David Westin, the president of
07:14
Abc News Calls You: Of all places. Yeah.
07:18
Charlie Rose: -- with your four kids.
07:20
Lee Woodruff: With my four kids.
07:23
Charlie Rose: And he says Bob's been injured.
07:25
Lee Woodruff: Right, Bob's been injured and we believe that he has taken shrapnel to the brain. And I sort of had -- I mean I knew that obviously the brain is an important organ but I don't think I ever really thought about what a head injury meant or what it could mean, potentially.
07:37
Charlie Rose: And some of that is in here too.
07:39
Lee Woodruff: Right, yeah. And you know, I mobilized all of us out of there. I'm still not sure to this day how we did that. We got on a plane and I then I turned everything around and myself and Bob's brother and my brother-in-law, and my friend Melanie Bloom all immediately headed out to Landstuhl, Germany to meet his body in sort of an uncertain --
07:55
Charlie Rose: Yeah. You were in the air not knowing what was happening on the ground.
08:00
Lee Woodruff: Right. Right.
08:04
Bob Woodruff: I'll tell you what is happening at that exact moment, too, if you want to hear some more about what was happening.
08:09
Charlie Rose: I do.
08:11
Bob Woodruff: Because, and Vinnie Malhotra, who I was talking about before, he was actually -- lent over and started holding his fingers on my neck.
08:16
Charlie Rose: And saved your life.
08:18
Bob Woodruff: -- saved my life. My blood is coming out. So he is blocking that - blocking that. And then after that, one of the Iraqi translators was with us. He then took over and he did the same thing. There is also a story that I just found out, just a couple of days ago, which is the helicopters, they came down and picked us up to take us off to the - to the hospital. They were told by their commanders - commanders --
08:37
Charlie Rose: Right.
08:39
Bob Woodruff: -- that do not go down to this area because it is too dangerous. There was a - there was a -- some gunshots.
08:47
Lee Woodruff: There was a complex attack happening.
08:49
Bob Woodruff: There was an attack going on.
08:50
Lee Woodruff: Yeah.
08:52
Bob Woodruff: And so they told them don't go down there and pick them up. They didn't know if we were -- they didn't know what we were. They assumed we were military guys. They treated us like anyone else. But you know what they did? They actually turned down the radio and ignored the guys that were telling them not to go down. And they came down and saved our lives. I just found that out.
09:09
Charlie Rose: You just found about this two days ago.
09:11
Bob Woodruff: Just a couple of days ago.
09:12
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
09:14
Bob Woodruff: From the guys. You were with the guys that saved your life.
09:18
Charlie Rose: It is extraordinary. I mean, you -- fair to say, you believed, hoped, prayed that he would be back as good as he is.
09:24
Lee Woodruff: Yes.
09:26
Charlie Rose: -- but knew what a long road that was. You were worried about whether he would be deaf or blind --
09:29
Lee Woodruff: Right.
09:31
Charlie Rose: -- or whether he would not --
09:34
Lee Woodruff: Not -- he could have been so disfigured. You have seen so many of these gentlemen, with an eye patch, or their face burned on the side, or - or you know, facial muscles that had to be sawed through to get the rocks out --
09:43
Charlie Rose: Right.
09:46
Lee Woodruff: -- so the whole side of the face is slack. And that would have been more difficult for him to resume what he did for a living, even if he did have his mental facilities.
09:53
Charlie Rose: And there were even discussions at one time over -- that he may have to go into a nursing home.
09:56
Lee Woodruff: Absolutely. Right before.
09:59
Charlie Rose: All of this is the emotion that you have lived through.
10:03
Lee Woodruff: Right.
10:04
Charlie Rose: But you were saved by a number of things. You got to a hospital in 36 minutes.
10:08
Bob Woodruff: Yeah, we got down to Baghdad, which was the first place we landed on the first helicopter that took us out. What they did they got us ou of the tank, put us in a vehicle, drove a mile down the road, put us in the helicopter, flew us down to Baghdad, check me on this all -- and this is very bad situation. And flew me up to Balad, which is the main medical area just north of Baghdad about 12 miles. And got me on a second helicopter up there. And by the time they got up there, that was about 37 minutes, but then within two hours they - they cut the skull off.
10:38
Charlie Rose: Four inches of --
10:39
Bob Woodruff: Over there.
10:41
Charlie Rose: -- your skull.
10:42
Bob Woodruff: It's --
10:44
Lee Woodruff: Fourteen centimeters, I can't convert it.
10:45
Charlie Rose: Yeah. OK. I can't either. But --
10:50
Bob Woodruff: Divided by 2.54.
10:51
Charlie Rose: In some cases they can - they can save it and put it back.
10:54
Bob Woodruff: Well, they could in some situation, they can then take that and put it in your stomach --
10:58
Charlie Rose: Right.
10:59
Bob Woodruff: For example, let it live down there for about the next four months. But mine was so shattered that they had to get rid of it. So later on, what they put on mine was a piece of plastic.
11:06
Charlie Rose: There were three times he almost died. I mean, obviously the time of the blast.
11:10
Lee Woodruff: Right.
11:11
Charlie Rose: And the fact you had somebody put the hand on you, and stop the blood flow. The fact that you just told us the story about getting there, what they did for you. But there were three serious cases after the explosion.
11:19
Lee Woodruff: Right. The second one was getting the rock that had passed all the way through his throat to the other side out. It was a very ticklish procedure. And I don't -- I don't know that they ever - I mean, certainly death was a possibility if something had gone wrong. They just weren't quite sure how they were going to approach it initially. So that was the danger for a period of time. But I think honestly the worst, for anyone who has ever had a relative or a loved one in the hospital, was when he had the pneumonia and the sepsis. And I don't think I fully understood just how completely life-threatening, how close to death he was. My sister, who has the nose in the family, Nancy, said that she could walk in that room and she could smell death. He was that close.
11:51
Charlie Rose: And you could see him almost, you could feel and see --
11:55
Lee Woodruff: Feel him slipping away.
11:57
Charlie Rose: -- the way he looked, the way he was --
11:59
Lee Woodruff: Yes. He was just - he was slipping away. And they were trying. They put full power antibiotics on him and said, you know, this could result in some organ failure down the road, but this is the only thing we have left.
12:11
Charlie Rose: You were in a coma for how long?
12:13
Bob Woodruff: About 36 days. This happened on January 29th of last year, and then I woke up on March 6th.
12:20
Charlie Rose: When they wake you up - I've gone through this a little bit myself, the same kind of circumstance, where you are in an induced coma, then they bring you up and they put you back in. Is that what they did?
12:29
Bob Woodruff: I think Lee will know this more than I do.
12:31
Charlie Rose: That's right, she'd know much better.
12:33
Bob Woodruff: But they tested, you know, a couple of times to see if they could pull me off of the drugs and wake me up. And it was just too --
12:38
Lee Woodruff: He was so agitated. And he wasn't -- they had to be following commands. You have to be able to say "squeeze my hand," and he has to be able to squeeze it, or "open your eyes, Bob." And he wasn't able to do any of that. So to wake him up only made him agitated. He pulled his stomach too bad at one point in time. He fought people. He actually had wrist restraints on whenever we weren't with him. They had to restrain him.
12:57
Charlie Rose: So (inaudible) things out and --
12:59
Lee Woodruff: Or get out of bed. He was constantly trying to get out of bed.
13:02
Charlie Rose: He makes it home.
13:04
Lee Woodruff: Uh-huh.
13:07
Charlie Rose: And you take him home. Now, you -- then come up, you don't, when you first come up, you don't remember - remember that you have two children. You don't remember four.
13:15
Bob Woodruff: Right when I woke up, I didn't. I knew I had - I knew the older ones. I knew them.
13:21
Charlie Rose: But didn't remember the younger ones.
13:22
Bob Woodruff: I didn't remember the younger ones. But as soon as I saw them or heard about them, then I knew it.
13:27
Charlie Rose: Are you day by day learning more about your -- what you had forgotten or didn't remember?
13:32
Bob Woodruff: Yeah, I think so. You know, some of the things are coming back to me. All little pieces are coming back to me, and some of them without necessarily studying them. They are just popping back into my head. Like there might be words, for example. In the beginning, I didn't know any single state in this country. I couldn't name a single one. Just those popped back. I didn't restudy the map. They just started coming back in. And some of the names of my brothers. I didn't know their names in the beginning. Those have come back. Just so many other things. And three months ago, I wouldn't even be speaking like this. So it has been significantly better. I think the last time I saw you, about a month and a half ago, I mean, even that was worse.
14:10
Lee Woodruff: You know, Charlie, from the wife's perspective, watching from the outside in, and I probably didn't let a lot of my fear -- I tried to be just so neutral and happy and supportive -- but he could not remember how to pay bills online. Now, Bob had done all of our finances. He didn't remember what a mortgage was during one conversation, which completely panicked me. And he had to teach himself how to use the computer again. Here was this guy that would always edit videos and do all these photo -- Yes, and that was petrifying.
14:39
Charlie Rose: But you know what, he said to you in Chinese before we started, "you look beautiful." In Chinese. I only know that because he told me. Did he immediately - you learned Chinese when you were living and working in China. You have told me that on a previous show.
14:54
Bob Woodruff: I studied it in school before that, law school.
14:56
Charlie Rose: OK. Did he instantly remember all of his Chinese?
15:00
Lee Woodruff: Well, here is the interesting thing about the brain that I learned. They believe that the language that you study after the age of six gets housed in a different part of your brain. So his French and his German and his Chinese are in a different part of his brain. Now, he'll tell you he still lost some of that, but the area where he was directly hit and the skull was shattered is the primary speech and language. So that was the English part of him learning from a child.
15:24
Charlie Rose: You still experience depression.
15:26
Bob Woodruff: Every once in a while. I think that is absolutely true. Just, you know, frustration.
15:33
Charlie Rose: You felt guilty for - occasionally, because you said what have I done to my family? Did I have to come here?
15:39
Bob Woodruff: Even to this day, I feel guilt about it. About what happened. And clearly if it had turned out differently than it has right now, I would feel even more guilty. But yes, I blame myself for what I did to my family and what I put them through for a year. I sometimes want --
15:56
Charlie Rose: She looks at you every day and says, that's crazy.
16:00
Lee Woodruff: I do. I mean, you were doing your job. You were doing -- you have always gone above and beyond what the story required. And do I wish that you'd stop because you had had enough in the can that day? Yeah. But that's not you.
16:14
Bob Woodruff: But I think this happens -- if you go out there and you meet some of the military guys that have been in this situation, that are in it and their families, and you see a very similar feel. You know, did they know that this was something they did? They look back and they know, even though someone hit them and it was horrible, and it wasn't really something they did, but you put yourself in that position, or you decided to join the Army or the Marines or whatever it might be, or be a reporter over there, that is something you did. And you made that decision. And that's you that really needs to be blamed for it. And that's the way I feel, and a lot of the guys I talked to feel the same way.
16:48
Charlie Rose: Would it be fair to say their father is a different person?
16:53
Lee Woodruff: Yes. He is. He was always a great dad, and a great husband. But I think that he's more accessible to us now. I think the Bob pre-accident had so many things turning around inside of his head, there were so many pressures and stresses on him, and he was always -- his moments of blue would be about they gave somebody else that story. You know, I wanted to go there. And I don't think he twists about things like that anymore. I think that the time that he had with us this last year recovering was a precious time. I never want to say that either of us needed to be reminded of what was important, because I think we always had our priorities straight. But you know, this is a demanding job. And it takes everything to do it. And I feel like he is -- a part of him is settled now. You are at peace somewhere with whatever it is you are going to do.
17:45
Bob Woodruff: I think so. You know, I think about what some of the -- some of the soldiers and Marines that have gotten into this situation -- so many of them are 19, 20, 21 years old. Maybe they just got married, at pretty young ages. And hadn't really been through much with their wives, maybe they don't even have a family, maybe their kids are really young, one, two years old. To be at that kind of position and being in such a bad situation must have been really so many ways more difficult. One of the things that's lucky, somewhat, about us is that we've been through a lot already in life. You know, I don't have any more regrets about this as much, because I think I have done a lot of things in life. And if all of this kind of came to an end, it wouldn't be the worst thing. But if I was at the beginning of my life and was still looking at what I was going to do next, and then suddenly it's cut off, that's what a lot of these guys are seeing.
18:41
Charlie Rose: What did you learn about the way America treats veterans? And about military hospitals that have now become a huge controversy and resulted in the firing of some people in charge?
18:52
Bob Woodruff: I think you see what happened in this war from the beginning, as we all know. In the very beginning of this war, we didn't really think there would be that many injured, that this would be relatively quick. What happened over time, I mean even back all the way up through the middle of the end of 2004, I would travel around Iraq pretty freely. I could go check into a hotel. I could go out to a restaurant. I could walk around the streets and talk to people. That is all completely changed. Now you got massive IEDs that are exploding just about everywhere, and that is always a danger. And because of these IEDs, we got different kinds of injures than you ever really expected. So not only do you have so many more injured than you thought you did before, but also they've got different kinds of injuries that we're just now starting to understand. For example, traumatic brain injury, which is what I have got. Which so many -- we believe this is absolutely without question the most kind of injury in this war. And we don't really know how to help those, rehabilitate those that have this over long periods of time, especially in the smaller towns that they go to. Most of the soldiers, Marines in this war are from small towns, and a lot of times in the South. They are going out to places that have not had to deal with TBI like that in the past. And now they are in the situation where they have to know something very complicated about how to help these families. And it has just taken a long time to do it. We've really kind of ignored it for too long.
20:20
Charlie Rose: And you really think things are going to change now?
20:24
Bob Woodruff: I certainly hope so. I think we're trying to make up for it. I mean, there is going to be some more help coming through. I think Congress and other places are now talking about more money, to hire more people, to teach more of it, and how to take care of these guys that need it. It is not only just those that are injured; it is also the families that are with these injured, that haven't gotten enough help to deal with their -- mostly their husbands.
20:51
Charlie Rose: Martha Raddatz, White House correspondent who you know, a colleague of yours at
20:55
Abc News: Right.
20:57
Charlie Rose: She was talking about the soldiers, not the journalists. Two things come out of this. First is that the families suffer enormously.
21:05
Lee Woodruff: They do.
21:08
Charlie Rose: In terms of agony that, you know, at what is happening. I can't imagine what you went through between the time that you were at Disneyland and the time you got to Germany. You thought about everything.
21:18
Lee Woodruff: Yeah. And Charlie, we are so lucky. I mean, we had ABC behind us every step of the way, to take care of all of those expenses. And I would see women -- we would sort of form these pods, the families, outside of the ICU room, which was really just sort of a cube with a curtain. And you would see all the other grieving families in the ICU day after day after day. And you would lose one, either because the soldier had died, which happened probably five or six times while we were there, or the soldier got moved up to the fifth floor, which was like graduation day. That was a really big deal. And I felt always we had so many people around us, because Bob's family and mine is large. But you look at the other families, and they had left their children at home. Mom or grandpa or somebody was taking care of them. They do not have the resources that they need, primarily, because the burden falls on the caregiver. And that is -- you have just inherited another child for months and months and months. I mean, I brought him home in April after he got out of his outpatient here in New York, but I was terrified. There was a medication schedule like Nurse Ratched. There was this man with a missing skull. I must have woken up every hour --
22:24
Charlie Rose: Wore a helmet.
22:27
Lee Woodruff: -- wore a helmet every time he was out of bed, and I would scream at him to put it on. And every hour, I would wake up to make sure he wasn't sleeping on that side.