By Bernard S. LittleJuly 2, 2008
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 2, 2008) -- Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the USO of Metropolitan Washington rolled out the red carpet Tuesday for wounded warriors, real Army wives and the cast and crew of Lifetime channel's "Army Wives" for an exclusive screening of the drama series.
The event was held in the old Red Cross building at Walter Reed.
The show, which airs Sundays at 10 p.m., with encores on Mondays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 11 p.m., follows the lives of four Army wives, their Families and an "Army husband" whose wife is in the Army. The show is based on the non-fiction book "Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Military Marriage" by Tanya Biank.
Col. Bruce Haselden, garrison commander at Walter Reed, praised "Army Wives" for showing how Families are impacted by the service of their loved ones to the nation.
"[It shows] that servicemembers have Families who are concerned about them whether they are deployed or at home," Haselden said.
He added that last year, the Army rededicated itself to supporting Army Families with the signings of Army Family Covenants at military installations worldwide, and a commitment to dedicate more resources to Family programs.
Haselden said each Army Family brings "unique strength, courage and character" to their communities.
Sheila Casey, who attended the event with her husband Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, said she's been an Army spouse for almost 38 years. She explained her awareness of the accumulative effects of repeated deployments on military Families.
"As George and I travel around talking to Army Families and Soldiers, we are amazed by their resilience and courage," she said.
"Our greatest resource are those relationships we have with other military spouses," she added.
"From week to week, 'Army Wives' works to show the Army community as a Family, and that we look out for each other during those hard times," she said. "We rely on each other, and we support each other. We appreciate and respect the times that we spend together. We appreciate the efforts of Lifetime for resonating the message that the Army Family is strong."
Lee Woodruff, the wife of ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff, also attended the event. On Jan. 29, 2006, Bob Woodruff and Canadian cameraman Doug Vogt were seriously injured in an explosion from an improvised explosive device near Taji, Iraq, about 12 miles north of Baghdad. Woodruff was treated for a traumatic brain injury at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He was kept in a medically-induced coma for several weeks to assist his recovery.
Lee Woodruff, referred to herself as an "honorary Army wife."
"I have a husband who for 10 years, covered wars," she said. "I have a husband who believes that as long as there are American servicemembers willing to put themselves in harm's way, there needs to be journalists there to tell that side of the story. I'm an Army wife because I know what it feels like to send your husband off to war, pretend that it's just another day, and to wait for that phone call that you pray will never come.
"I got that phone call in 2003 when my best friend Melanie Bloom's husband David, [the NBC correspondent], died in Iraq, and I got that phone call Jan. 29, 2006," she said.
Lee Woodruff said as she sat by her husband's bed during his recovery, she met so many other military wives and Families enduring what she was facing.
"You are my heroes - all of you," she said. "I didn't know a lot about the military before Bob got injured, but I do know a lot about what you go through."
She said those who are injured serving this nation "deserve the respect, dignity and greatest level of care and treatment this country can provide."
Brigid Brannagh, who portrays Pamela Moran on "Army Wives," called it an honor to be at Walter Reed. She said since the show began last year, the cast has had the opportunity to meet many Army Families. She called being at Walter Reed "amazing," as her emotions surfaced and she began to weep. She called WRAMC, its patients and staff "magical."
"I'm impressed in such a profound way," Brannagh said. "I can't believe what you do here. I'm grateful to all of you."
Sally Pressman, who portrays Roxy LeBlanc on "Army Wives," echoed those sentiments: "I'm overwhelmed. I can't find the words to express what we feel for every single one of you," Pressman said to the Walter Reed community. "You guys have changed my life. I'm so grateful."
(Bernard Little is editor of the Stripe newspaper at Walter Reed.)