Meeting the Wounded: "They do not want your pity"

CBS News correspondent David Martin has been talking to wounded warriors -- many of them amputees -- for 10 years. Here are a few of the men he'll never forget.

For the past 10 years, David Martin has been seeking out the wounded.

He finds them in bed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, sometimes just days or weeks after their devastating injuries occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan. He watches them take their first steps on prosthetic legs, and often, checks on them years later to see how they've fared in their new battles.

It's a heartbreaking beat, but one that Martin, the Pentagon correspondent for CBS News, and his longtime producer Mary Walsh are committed to.

"This is the epic human struggle of our time in our country," says Walsh. "When you meet these wounded soldiers and their families and realize what they are going through, you just grab onto it and say this is something that the American people have to see."

But witnessing the youthful soldiers' fresh wounds in person can be shocking. And sometimes the most grievous injuries are the ones that can't be seen.

"These wounds are so much more traumatic than what you see," Martin says. There are often debilitating internal injuries or traumatic brain injuries that stress soldiers' relationships and family lives for years to come.

"Sometimes, with these double leg amputations above the knee, these guys are having their genitals damaged-- and of course, you just don't ask about that. But it's just another assault on who they are."

Remarkably, many of the amputees David and Mary have met over the years sound optimistic about life. A 22-year-old named Brendan Marrocco even described himself as "fortunate" to be alive. Marrocco had just lost both his legs and both his arms in battle.

"We've had so many inspiring, amazing encounters at Walter Reed," says Mary. "There was one soldier who had lost a leg, and his wife was speaking to me on the side while David was doing the interview. They're a deep Christian family, and she said to me, 'I'm glad that it happened to us because we are strong enough to deal with this.' What do you say to that?"


Click here to watch David and Mary's latest report on wounded warriors and how actor Gary Sinise was inspired by his Forrest Gump character to help care for them.


For 60 Minutes viewers who wish to join Gary Sinise in his efforts to aid wounded veterans, here is some useful contact information:

Gary Sinise Foundation

The Lt. Dan Band

Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation

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