2013 TUCSON FESTIVAL OF BOOKS

Readers take a journey with military writer at Tucson books festival

2013-03-11T00:00:00Z 2014-03-22T19:19:30Z Readers take a journey with military writer at Tucson books festivalCarmen Duarte Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

David Wood, senior military correspondent for the Huffington Post, took listeners on a journey into the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, and into the lives of military members, who suffered massive multiple injuries, as they healed back in U.S. hospitals and in their homes.

Wood spent months with 10 soldiers, and spoke to hundreds of men and women for "Beyond the Battlefield," a 10-part series about these wounded warriors, sharing stories Sunday afternoon with an audience at the Arizona Daily Star Pavilion during a sunny day that closed the fifth Tucson Festival of Books event at the University of Arizona.

About 55,000 reading fans turned out on Sunday, organizers said.

The festival has awarded $700,000 for literacy since its inception in 2009.

Wood's series won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. The stories were put together in an e-book. Wood gave snippets about veterans Jimmy Cleveland Kinsey II, who died from a drug overdose face-down on the floor of a Houston hotel room; Bobby Henline, who is now a comedian and shares his ordeal about deep burns to his face, left arm and a hand that was amputated, in comedy clubs; and Todd M. Nelson, who has undergone dozens of surgeries to his face, which was broken, cut and burned after a suicide driver detonated explosives.

"Most people in Congress have never been in the military. ... When it comes to decisions to go to war, it matters," said Wood, 67, a journalist since 1970 who has reported on conflict from Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Central America for publications including Time magazine, the Los Angeles Times and The Baltimore Sun.

Wood delves into the lives of young soldiers whose battlefield injuries have physically and emotionally changed them, and affected their families. The stories include the soldiers' caregivers who are their wives and mothers. These women's roles are tremendous "because they are caregivers for life. They give the medications, change the dressings, schedule the surgeries, drive them to where they need to go, and help them get around the kitchen," Wood said.

The caregivers also bear the brunt of their loved ones' anger and emotional garbage that surfaces because of the soldiers' physical and mental wounds, said Wood. Through it all, the caregivers don't get medals and the president does not visit them, Wood said.

Wood did acknowledge that Congress has now provided, in some circumstances, funding to train, certify and pay full-time caregivers, including giving them respite and two weeks' paid vacation.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or cduarte@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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