As an ABC News correspondent, Bob Woodruff was no stranger to the dangers of war. He embedded with the Marines during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Three years later, he returned as the network’s newly appointed co-anchor, to report on conditions there ahead of President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address.
It didn’t take long for Woodruff and his cameraman Doug Vogt to discover that the conflict had long since shifted from conventional fighting to an insurgency. On Jan. 29, 2006, both were traveling in an Iraqi armored personnel carrier when they hit a roadside bomb near Taji, just north of Baghdad.
If not for the quick actions of U.S. military medical professionals, Woodruff would not have survived the resulting traumatic brain injury that left him in a medically induced coma for 36 days. And while he would never take credit, far fewer injured veterans and their families would have access to resources if not for the Woodruff family’s life-altering experience.
“Being in the media, Bob put a familiar face on the fact that injuries like these were happening every day,” said Anne Marie Dougherty, executive director of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. “And with Bob recovering in the same hospital as our injured troops, the Woodruffs gained a huge appreciation for the struggles of military families.”
Inspired by their experiences, Bob and his wife Lee, a journalist and best-selling author, started the Bob Woodruff Foundation in 2007. Since then, $30 million has been invested to create long-lasting, positive outcomes for our nation’s wounded, ill and injured veterans, service members and their families, by finding, funding and shaping initiatives that enrich the lives of these heroes.
Beyond funding, the foundation has established itself as a leader in the space by leveraging the Woodruff’s name and network with influencers and decision makers in media, entertainment, business and government, including the military, to promote collaboration and effect solutions.
“My wife Deanie and I have had the pleasure of not only working with Bob and Lee for our troops, but have become dear friends,” said retired Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “It’s hard to imagine a world without the decade of support that has followed since Bob’s Alive Day.”
And with troops still deployed to the Middle East, the foundation is fully aware that the needs of our military and their families will change, requiring a fluid, thoughtful approach.
“We’re going to be at war whether or not we actually say it for the next 20 years,” added Dempsey. “The Bob Woodruff Foundation has proven itself more than capable of ensuring that the needs of our veterans are being addressed, while investing in the longer-term needs that have yet to be realized.”
Ultimately, the continued success of the Bob Woodruff Foundation rests with maintaining the credibility it has achieved with the community it serves.
“Bob is one of us. There is no single civilian in all of America who has done more to support the post-9/11 veterans community,” said Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “He has experienced the hell that war is, and his ability to use his near-death experience to create significant change in the lives of post-9/11 veterans and their families is a testament to the commitment he has to our community. IAVA staff and our 425,000 members salute Bob and celebrate his 10th Alive Day.”
To learn more about the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s impact in the decade since Bob’s Alive Day, visit www.BobWoodruffFoundation.org.
About the Bob Woodruff Foundation:
The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) is the nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring injured service members and their families are thriving long after they return home. A national organization with grassroots reach, the Bob Woodruff Foundation complements the work of the federal government —diligently navigating the maze of more than 46,000 nonprofits providing services to veterans—finds, funds and shapes innovative programs, and holds them accountable for results. To date, BWF has invested nearly $30 million in public education and solutions, reaching more than 2 million service members, support personnel, veterans and their families. The Bob Woodruff Foundation was co-founded in 2006 by award-winning anchor Bob Woodruff and his family, whose own experiences inspired them to help make sure the nation’s heroes have access to the high level of support and resources they deserve, for as long as they need it. For more information about the Bob Woodruff Foundation, please visit bobwoodrufffoundation.org or on Facebook and Twitter at @Stand4Heroes.