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During his deployment to Iraq, Army Sgt. (Ret.) Eric Edmundson took countless photos depicting life as a soldier, images set among barren desert landscapes and barracks featuring tanks, Iraqi civilians and fellow soldiers.
Edmundson suffered a traumatic brain injury following an IED attack on a vehicle he was driving in October 2005. While he was still in a coma, his family discovered his photos on his camera and turned them into the focus of an exhibit that intends to raise awareness about the ongoing needs of the more than 40,000 men and women who have incurred service-related wounds, injuries and illnesses since Sept. 11, 2001.
Members of the BWH community, including more than 20 armed forces veterans, gathered March 8 in Cabot Atrium for the Wounded Warriors Photo Exhibit opening ceremony, hosted by E.J. Caterson, MD, PhD, of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and Elof Eriksson, MD, chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
“We are honored to host this inspiring initiative,” said Andy Whittemore, MD, BWH chief medical officer, who served in the U.S. Navy. “Individual sacrifice is often lost in the dialogue, but this kind of engagement and sustained effort presents an up-close and personal view. The Brigham as an institution stands ready and eager to help provide the best of care to these heroes who have suffered increasingly complex wounds.”
After Whittemore’s opening remarks, Lt. Col. Eric Holt, DO, a Purple Heart recipient and combat injured physician, spoke about the intersection of medicine and war. Edmundson’s sister, Anna Frese, who has spent the past six years advocating for caregiver legislation with her family, then introduced her brother to the audience.
“My life was changed by a bomb in a place that seemed a world away,” said Edmundson, who was joined by his wife, Stephanie, and two children, Gracie and Hunter, at the event. “After I was injured, my goal was to return home to be with my wife and children, and to carry on with our lives. Hospitals like yours have helped me to return home.”
Edmundson, a Purple Heart recipient who now speaks through a computer device as a result of his brain injuries, added that a return to a new normal life is not something wounded soldiers take for granted.
“We want a chance at what we went to defend: the American way of life, to live independent, safe and free,” he said. “It’s my hope that you leave this exhibit with a sense of the real cost of war.”
The Wounded Warriors photo exhibit is currently on display in the Main Mezzanine at the entrance to the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center bridge through April 8.
View the photo gallery. >>