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Documentary Not all About Woodruff

ABC may be advertising the Bob Woodruff documentary airing tomorrow as all about Bob, his tragedy and comeback, but Woodruff sees it as a chance to call attention to veterans and the care they’re getting — or not.

He calls the government to task in the hour-long show for not giving enough care to vets who aren’t in major metropolitan centers. Those who saw a preview today saw one vet improving under the care of specialists in a major military hospital — learning to speak and use the left side of his body — but deteriorating quickly back home in Texas without good medical help. (The VA told ABC it was a paperwork error.)

There’s also an accusation that the government is forbidding Defense Department personnel from talking about the gravity of the situation. From ABCNEWS.com’s website today: “While the U.S. Department of Defense says that there have been about 23,000 nonfatal battlefield casualties in Iraq, Woodruff discovers — through an internal VA report — that more than 200,000 veterans have sought medical care for various ailments, including more than 73,000 diagnoses for mental disorders.”

Woodruff says that as many as 150,000 of those who’ve served in Afghanistan and Iraq could have brain problems because of the war. He talks to one soldier who fought for months to have the VA even acknowledge that his memory problems were likely related to Traumatic Brain Injury, the same injury Woodruff had.

Asked today if he felt odd, as a newsman, having the documentary focus so much on him, Woodruff said it was a chance to bring attention to the vets, what they and their families go through and the care they need. Woodruff also talked at length about his family and their support, his wife, his three brothers, his wife’s sisters, his four children — all of whom are prominently featured in the documentary. He said today that his first question upon waking from his coma was to ask about cameraman Doug Vogt (above with Woodruff), injured with Woodruff by the explosion in Iraq.

Bob Woodruff Almost His Old Self

ABC News this morning gave reporters a sneak peak of the documentary about Bob Woodruff‘s near-death and recovery and how his family — as well as the other soldiers and Marines who’ve been through the same, usually with much less positive results — have dealt with it. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)– what Woodruff suffered — is a big part of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, because as helmets and other protective gear improve, as well as medical techniques for keeping military men and women alive, more of those who come back end up living with brain trauma.

After screening the documentary, “To Iraq and Back,” which airs tomorrow evening, Woodruff, ABC News president David Westin and executive producer Tom Yellin spoke to a room of about two dozen people(including reporters David Bianculli, Howard Kurtz, and mediabistro’s Dylan Stableford and Dorian Benkoil), acknowledging that even six months ago he probably wouldn’t have been able to handle such a conversation. With his once-shattered skull rebuilt with a plastic, he looked his old self — the same sparkle in his blue eyes, quick wit, a full head of his own dark black hair, and just a few small scars on his face.

But he also sometimes had trouble finding a word, for example once saying “news” when he meant “knowledge” and not being able to come up with the word “intestines” — signs that he has not completely recovered; he said he probably never will fully. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever anchor again — something he says was never his main goal — but is eager to report on the story of soldiers’ injuries and recovery, and then other stories down the line.

Woodruff, fluent in Chinese, speaking privately, also threw out a few sentences in Chinese and also in Japanese, a sign of how far he has come since only about a year ago when, as shown in the documentary, he had trouble identifying “scissors” from a picture card.

More to come …

MSNBC Using More NBC Talent

Has anyone noticed the familiar faces on MSNBC lately?

Yesterday, Lester Holt hosted some of MSNBC Live from NYC. Last night, Brian Williams hosted about ten minutes worth of the channel’s 10pm special report from the Middle East. This morning, David Gregory hosted the 9am hour of news from D.C. It led an emailer to ask: “Has Dan Abrams put pressure on NBC News to share some talent?”

BREAKING: GMA Exec Producer Resigns

The Executive Producer of Good Morning America, Ben Sherwood, has resigned, effective October 1, ABC News tells TV Newser. ABC called us after the NY Observer’s Media Mob posted the story.

More details to come here soon.

MSNBC Switching Joe and Rita

MSNBC has told staffers that Rita Cosby is moving to 10 p.m. and Joe Scarborough is moving to Cosby’s 9 p.m. slot.