Bob Woodruff's recovery has been nothing short of miraculous. But he has received the finest of care. After waking up, Woodruff wondered what kind of care our soldiers with traumatic brain injury are receiving. What he found, and what ABC7 found Wednesday, are soldiers like Eric Edmundson, who is now getting excellent care in Chicago, but his father says the Veterans Administration let them down.
He can hear the question and think of the answer. But 26-year-old Army Sergeant Eric Edmunson now needs the help of a computer to speak. Edmunson was seriously wounded in 2005 while on patrol in northern Iraq when an improvised explosive device blew up his vehicle. He suffered traumatic brain injury, as well as anoxic brain injury, when his brain was starved of oxygen for half an hour.
"Eric cannot walk, talk, ...he does not have control of his functions," said Ed Edmunson, Eric's father.
Eric's father quit his job and has been by his son's side ever since. They live in North Carolina -- and shortly after coming home, Eric was put into a Veterans Administration hospital. But they say the care there was so inadequate, after three months, they pulled him out.
"It's obvious they just weren't geared up to take care of that severely of an injured soldier and we found that out when we were there," said Ed Edmunson.
As ABC's Bob Woodruff Reported Tuesday night, many families are frustrated over the lack of care TBI patients receive from the VA. He told story after story of injured vets languishing because the VA is undermanned and under funded.
No one can say exactly how many vets have traumatic brain injury, but as Woodruff reported, it could be in the tens of thousands.
"Those folks have essentially flooded the current health care system...the current military healthcare system in particular," said Dr. Felise Zollman, Brain Injury Medicine, R.I.C.
As an advocate for his son, Ed Edmunson learned his son was eligible to come to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, because he is still technically on active duty. "I kind of go through a little guilt because Eric is here and I know there are hundreds of hundreds of soldiers that are in need of this type of care and can't get it," said Ed Edmunson.
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago says it would like to be able to treat more soldiers like Eric Edmunson, but because of the way the system is set up, veterans with TBI are stuck in the VA. The secretary of the VA claims they are working hard to improve the level of care, but there are so many others who need the kind of care Bob Woodruff got but can't get it now.
March 02, 2007
If It's Good Enough For Bob, Why Not Every Troop?
Since I'm a 100% disabled Veteran I could have commented on the countless storys currently out there on the VA caring (or not caring) for our wounded Veterans. I chose the story of "26-year-old Army Sergeant Eric Edmunson". It's part of Bob Woodruff's fine series, "To Iraq and Back".
This story hit me for 2 reasons: As a father who would do anything if my son was injured; the outrage I would feel for him being abandoned by the government he defended!
The first paragraph I quoted pisses me off to no end! All the returning Veterans deserve the "finest care"! Why should the best care go to the injured newsman and not the troop injured in the field. The throwaway cannon fodder. When you volunteer for this country you expect to be taken care of if you're hurt or blown-up. "Please, how about just a little oxygen for the brain...while you try and figure out if I'm going to make it or not!!"
The 2nd to the last paragraph sums it up: "...story after story of injured vets languishing because the VA is undermanned and under funded." This is nothing but a republi-con created problem, they were in total control for the last 6 years!! As usual, the Democrats are left to try and correct the problem.
My best to you, Eric and Ed! It looks like you got into "Rehabilitation Institure of Chicago" early. Unfortunately, a lot of Veterans won't get this kind of care. I ask this question, "If it's good enough for Bob, why not every troop?"
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