A story on Memorial Day in Iraq was guaranteed to make the network news, figured Kimberly Dozier. She didn't know where her crew was going or what they would see, but spending a patriotic holiday with the troops couldn't fail to produce newsworthy television. Much later, from a hospital bed, she would recall the words of her cameraman, Paul Douglas:
"Don't risk my life unless we're going to make air."
In 2006, a car bomb hit Dozier's news team on a street in Baghdad. Her cameraman and sound man were killed, as were their Army escort and Iraqi translator. The next time Dozier opened her eyes, she was in a hospital in Germany, and couldn't speak. She had lost over half of the blood in her body, the skin on the lower half of her body was severely burned, and her femurs were shattered. More than two dozen surgeries and a year of grueling physical therapy lay ahead; more painful still was the guilt that followed her through the recovery, as the only member of her crew to survive. Had she risked their lives in her drive for a story? When would images of them - and their families - stop circling her every waking hour?
Breathing the Fire examines the recovery process with a reporter's eye for detail and a patient's first-hand perspective. It was an ordeal that more than 30,000 combat-injured personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan have endured over the last several years. Dozier found inattentive medical care at veterans hospitals in the U.S., and discovered widespread indifference toward psychological care at every level - even the Department of Defense, which refused to reimburse military personnel for treatment by certified counselors. At the end of her ordeal was her struggle to adjust to a "new normal" at home, among friends, and back at work reporting stories she could not leave untold.
Kimberly Dozier has covered Iraq and the Middle East extensively for the CBS Evening News, The Early Show, and CBS Radio News. She is the recipient of a 2008 Peabody Award and 2008 Edward R. Murrow Award for "The Way Home," a report on two wounded women veterans.Â She has also received four American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) Gracie Awards â including Grand Gracie Award in 2007 for her body of work in Iraq.
Kimberly Dozier will also appear at a luncheon at a downtown Chicago club on Thursday, December 4. For more information, contact The Book Stall at 847-446-8880.
DVD 2008-12-03: Kimberly Dozier
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