For Immediate Release
September 11, 2013
Principal Contact (Global Campaign against IEDs):
Boston Bombing Victim Calls on Congress to Act against Improvised Explosive Devices
Calls on Congress to Condemn the Use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and Resolve the gap in Information Sharing Between Government Agencies and the Private Sector to help IED Victims
Washington, D.C. – On the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, a victim of the Boston Marathon IED attack is calling on Congress to take actions that will work to reduce the proliferation of these indiscriminate weapons and help victims of IED attacks.
On April 15, 2013, Dr. Joanna Leigh. witnessed the first explosion at the Boston Marathon and ran to help. Suddenly, less than 10 feet in front of her the second IED detonated throwing her back and onto the ground unconscious. She awoke to her legs being trampled in the chaos that followed the attack. Rising shakily to her feet, Dr. Leigh, saw an old man covered in blood staggering toward her, half collapsed, his hand/arm flayed open. She held him up and brought him to a safe area to provide aid. She continued to help treat the wounded and load them into ambulances, never seeking medical attention for herself. It was only many weeks after the attack that she understood how badly she was hurt.
Dr. Leigh was later diagnosed with severe closed Traumatic Brain Injury , significant vision loss, 50 percent hearing loss and other blast-related conditions. She lost portions of her ability to hear, see, taste, smell, remember, find things, organize, plan, speak properly, find her way, navigate a supermarket, drive, do a load of laundry cook, etc. She is unable to read or work at her computer or see her phone because her eyes are too blurry, yet she lacks the funds to buy a larger screen or speech-to-text technology. “I regularly become lost and terrified half a block from my house,” says Dr. Leigh. “not even knowing what city I am in, how I got there, or how to get home, and I have forgotten the password on my phone so I cannot call anybody.
Leigh has been directed not to work for 2 years in order to allow her brain to heal, yet because she did not lose any limbs and was not immediately hospitalized after the Boston attack, she received only $8,000 from the One Fund set up to support the Boston Marathon victims while amputees received $1.2M. and those immediately hospitalized received from $125, 000 to $984,300.
In a letter to Members of Congress Dr. Leigh is calling on them to act against IEDs and support all victims of these attacks by supporting House Resolution 190 previously introduced by Representative Richards Hanna (R-NY).
“As a victim whose life was forever changed by the Boston IED attack, I call on all Members of Congress to expeditiously pass House Resolution 190 that you sponsored to answer this call. There is no legitimate reason not to support and expedite this important legislation.” Says Dr. Leigh.
According to COL (Ret) Bob Morris of the Global Campaign against IEDs, “This lack of information-sharing also hampered development of One Fund compensation criteria. For example, the Department of Defense’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) uses millions of its $1B(+) annual budget on IED event data and blast-trauma research. It does not adequately share the results of these efforts with other agencies or the private sector. Consequently many are not aware of the data and issues addressed by these research findings.”
Morris also praises Leigh’s continued efforts to help all IED victims.
“On this, the anniversary of September 11th”, says Morris, “Dr. Leigh’s call to action is especially timely. The planes used in the September 11th attacks were the largest IEDs ever built, and besides the well known attacks from Oklahoma City to the Boston Marathon, in just the period from 4- 26 August there were IED events in 20 U.S. States including 16 bomb threats; 8 components and devices discovered; and 18 detonations. None of these were terrorist attacks. The U.S. deals with IED events of all sizes every day. Dr. Leigh’s call to action is both timely and courageous.”
According to the Global Campaign, Dr. Leigh’s injuries are common for IED blast victims and are seen in large numbers among active duty military and veterans. The top four IED related injuries are hearing loss, TBI, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and vision loss. Over 84% of U.S. military combat injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq are due to IEDs including 249,480 with hearing loss; 222,600 TBIs, 210,202 experiencing PTSD; and 110,022 with vision impairments. There have been only total 1,715 amputations. 34% of these IED victims suffer from both hearing and vision loss and 75% of TBI victims have visual dysfunctions.
“Percentages may be higher for Boston victims,” says Morris “because they lacked military protective equipment.”
In the conclusion of her letter to Congress, Dr. Leigh wrote: “I trust you will stand with me as not only a proud citizen who asks what you can do for your country, but as a public representative imbued with the obligation to serve with honor and passion. The information sharing, support to the public safety sector, and actions to help our veterans called for in H. Res. 190 and other actions by the Global Campaign must be supported and I respectfully call on you to do so.”
House Resolution 190, currently before Congress, specifically condemns the Boston attack and calls for needed support for members of the Public Safety Sector who deal with IEDs in the Homeland as well as calls upon the U.S. Department of Defense to begin sharing the blast-trauma related research and other IED event data it has. Though her letter, Dr. Leigh joins the Blinded Veterans Association, AMVETs, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Rolling Thunder, Firefighters, and others in the call to action and specific support for H. Res. 190.
To date, 42 Members have chosen to co-sponsor this resolution — none from Massachusetts.
“The tragic events in Boston should not surprise anyone,” stated Morris. “There are many who sounded warnings last year on the threat and continue doing so to this day. It is time to recognize this threat and come together against it rather than continuing to operate in “stovepipes”.
Those wishing to support the Global Campaign against IEDs can visit its website at www.CampaignAgainstIEDs.org.
Full text of Dr. Leigh’s letter, Contact Information for Interviews, a fact sheet on Boston IED victims’ injuries, and other information is immediately available for download at: [ www.CampaignAgainstIEDs.org/press-pack-3.pdf ].