Army veteran Bobby Woods was sure he was going to die in Afghanistan in August of 2010. A sniper round from 450 yards out pierced his forehead. The bullet was the first shot in a firefight, and it was devastating. It shattered his left temple, crushing an eye socket and breaking Bobby’s skull.
“I assumed I was going to die,” Bobby said about being shot. Amazingly, the bullet in the head did not stop him. “I kept the fight going and bandaged the wound myself and kept going. It didn’t knock me off my feet; it jerked my head pretty solidly around. I was pretty bloody at the moment, with a whole wave of red over my face.”
Bobby stayed the good soldier though, helping relay where the attack originated. “After I got shot, I figured out where they shot me from and called in their location.” Despite remaining focused in such an unbelievable situation, Bobby said it was no movie where the soldier didn’t even feel getting shot. “I was well aware of what happened. I have never felt anything even close to approaching that level of sheer pain.”
After steering his fellow soldiers toward the enemy, Bobby was taken off the battlefield to get emergency care for his injuries. Once stabilized in Afghanistan, he was medevacked to Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany – the largest U.S. hospital outside the United States. Medical crews at Landstuhl have treated more than 95,000 wounded warriors from Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.
Bobby was one of those warriors – flown in with a serious brain injury. Doctors and nurses at Landstuhl stabilized and treated him before sending him back stateside for more specialized care. Bobby’s brief stay at Landstuhl left a mark on him. After connecting with a veteran service organization in the U.S., Bobby would have the chance to give back.
He remembers meeting a fellow veteran while recovering in a hospital bed stateside. That veteran brought a backpack with clothes and other comfort items to Bobby’s bedside and introduced himself.
“Jonathan Pruden came in from Wounded Warrior Project. I was seriously brain damaged. I didn’t have a forehead. He said ‘I’m Jon. I will leave this backpack here.’ I said ‘Hi,’ and he didn’t realize I would talk.” Bobby hit it off with Jonathan – someone who didn’t worry about what he did in the service. “We didn’t talk about how I was hurt or the military. We talked about SEC football and other stuff.”
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) started 15 years ago delivering backpacks to warriors like Bobby at their hospital bedsides. Since 2003, WWP has delivered more than 65,000 backpacks, transition care packages, and family support bags to warriors and families. WWP is still in hospitals, delivering comfort items to newly injured warriors returning from Afghanistan, Iraq, and other conflict areas around the world. And WWP has also evolved to continue meeting the needs of warriors.
WWP serves warriors by connecting them with one another and their communities. Programs also focus on mental and physical health and wellness, financial wellness, independence, government relations, and community relations and partnerships. Generous donors make it possible for wounded warriors to take part in connection activities and benefit from program resources at no cost to them – because they paid their dues on the battlefield.
Part of that process involves helping warriors internationally. Bobby has been honored to be involved in those efforts. He has joined WWP on two international trips. On one, he bonded with other warriors and British service members on a Soldier Ride®. On the other trip, Bobby joined other warriors to return to Landstuhl to show their appreciation to the men and women who helped save their lives.
“I was able to thank the nurses and doctors on staff there. It was very humbling to be able to visit with them.”
Bobby moved through Landstuhl so quickly when he was first hurt, and his injuries were so severe, that he didn’t get a chance to spend time with the staff. His return provided a chance to see what they deal with.
“It seems like a very sad job they are doing. It is not normal work there. Everyone coming through is pretty seriously hurt. It is great for the medical staff to see people they helped – how well they are doing. The people that they saved are able to have good lives.”
WWP has taken dozens of warriors back to Landstuhl over the years as part of the recovery process. It was very beneficial for Bobby. “They seemed appreciative being thanked, and I was very appreciative to be able to thank them.”
Bobby also had the chance to meet newly injured veterans during his trip. “It was great to meet the troops who had recently been wounded in combat,” Bobby said. “Hopefully I gave them the same sort of inspiration and hope that was given to me by WWP. Combat injuries are tough, but we let them know that, in time, life will be good again, no matter how tough the wound.”
Along with those trips, WWP hosts events for warriors in and around Germany. The veterans charity also works closely with the Red Cross to ensure injured veterans in Landstuhl get the support they need.
Bobby’s life changed because of his traumatic brain injury (TBI). He had an IQ around 160 before his injury. He said the TBI created challenges he has had to overcome. But he has not had to do it alone.
“Wounded Warrior Project has helped a lot. They got me in contact with many other people who I could talk with about tough things and a lot of close friends over the years. It’s been an effort from a lot of sources that have brought it all together.”
Working with WWP, Bobby was able to help others see the difficulties wounded veterans face. “Wounded Warrior Project brings our injuries to the world and gets so many new legal changes and laws passed that help. There are new medical things that are coming out, which makes me very hopeful.”
Bobby is living with his injuries, with a 30-or-so-point IQ drop from his TBI and near blindness in his left eye. But he is thriving – he continued his education and earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Georgia. He wants other veterans to know about the help WWP can provide – because no warrior should ever feel alone.
“There are so many programs with Wounded Warrior Project to help people find jobs and education to move on.”
From surviving a gunshot to the head to sharing his recovery with wounded veterans around the globe, Bobby Woods has proven to be a resilient inspiration for others – all with the help of an organization that has connected him with others.
“Wounded Warrior Project brings veterans together. We’re able to help one another move forward both physically and emotionally.”
Learn about WWP efforts internationally at https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/programs/international-support.
Contact: Rob Louis – Public Relations, email@example.com, 904.627.0432
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers – helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more: https://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/.