Lee Woodruff Featured Speaker

USF, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital and the American Red Cross host daylong conference Mar. 10.


By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (March 7, 2011) – The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have placed a harsh spotlight on the term polytrauma – more than one injury – a problem all too common for returning veterans.

This critical issue will be the focus of the Second Annual Pathways to Resilience Caregivers Conference Mar. 10 at the University of South Florida with keynote speaker Lee Woodruff, wife of ABC News anchor and reporter Bob Woodruff.  SMSgt Rex A. Temple, flight chief from the Materiel Management Flight, 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron, will be the day’s emcee.

This special daylong event is open to the public and focuses on the needs of family members and caregivers who are involved in the lives of veterans with polytrauma. It will be held at USF’s Marshall Student Center from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Advance registration is requested for this free event. Click here for more information and to register or visit www.flwestcoastredcross.org/pathways.


Bob Woodruff sustained a traumatic brain injury when the vehicle he was traveling in was blown up by a roadside bomb while he was on assignment in Iraq in 2006. Together the Woodruffs founded ReMIND.org, a non-profit organization that helps wounded service members.  Lee has become a national advocate and travels around the country raising awareness of traumatic brain injury and the sacrifices of service members and their families. She and her husband co-wrote the best-selling book, In an Instant, about their family’s journey to recovery.  She will sign copies of her new book, Perfectly Imperfect, at the event.


There will be various sessions and special presentations including, “Family Caregivers” by Dr. Steven Scott, “Dealing with Sexuality & Intimacy Issues” by Linda Mona, “Resiliency through Faith & Spirituality” by Father David Czartorynski, “Caregiver Resources” by Shealyn Holt, and a CPR training session provided by the USF chapter of the American Red Cross.


Temple, who is stationed at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base, recently returned from a one-year tour in Afghanistan where he was embedded with the Afghan National Army. While there he completed more than 180 combat missions and was awarded the Bronze Star. During his deployment Temple recorded his daily activities in a popular blog, “Afghanistan My Last Tour,” which won the 2010 MilBlog Award in the Air Force category and the Florida Sunshine State award. His experiences in Afghanistan were featured weekly on NPR radio affiliate WUSF which won a regional Edward R. Murrow award and placed third in the national competition.  Temple’s wife Liisa Hyvarinen Temple, an adjunct professor at USF’s Honors College, helped organize the conference.


“One trauma is certainly bad enough, but polytrauma presents a particularly unique set of problems that require a multidisciplinary approach to treatment,” Hyvarinen Temple said. “But polytrauma also makes a unique set of demands on those closest to the veterans in question, Compounded injuries, compounded need for care and understanding. This conference will go a long way toward helping people start to get a handle on the associated issues.”


Dr. Scott is a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa and has directed both the spinal cord and traumatic brain injury programs.


Mona is a licensed clinical psychologist who has advocated for the sexual rights and sexual expression of people with disabilities for the past 15 years.


Holt is the family caregiver coordinator for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center and conducts research on traumatic brain injury and advocates for patient and family education and support.


Czartorynski is the acting chief of the Chaplain Service at the James A. Haley VA Hospital (JAHVA) in Tampa.  He specializes in pastoral care to spinal cord injury patients and polytrauma.


Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.