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Events

Alumna writes about human costs of war

Updated September 5, 2013

USA Today reporter and former Army Times writer Kelly Kennedy was embedded with Charlie Company in 2007 in one of the worst neighborhoods in Baghdad. Her new book, 'They Fought for Each Other,' is a frank account of the grim year and sacrifices the company endured.

The paperback version of Kennedy's 'They Fought for Each Other' is available now.Wednesday, Sept. 25
4-5 p.m.
North Ballroom
Lory Student Center

Lecture by alumna, Army veteran

The Colorado State University community and the public are invited to a free lecture by Colorado State University alumna Kelly Kennedy ('97).

The lecture will be held in the North Ballroom (upper level of the LSC) and the event will be followed by a reception (5-6 p.m.) and book signing in Cherokee Park Ballroom (upper level).

Kennedy traveled with the military as a journalist. She was embedded with Charlie Company, 1-26 Infantry, in Adhamiya, Iraq, in June 2007, and was with them for one of their worst days.  

Her “Wounded Warrior” story in February of 2007 put the Army Times and the Army at the forefront of American readers’ attention. Kennedy’s story on the treatment of soldiers at the Walter Reed Medical Center was released one day before a very similar story by the Washington Post.

She has now published a book called They Fought for Each Other, which came out in March.

Reporting on medical issues of war

“I joined the Army because I wanted to pay for school,” says Kelly (Bogdanowicz) Kennedy  (’97). From 1989 to 1993, Kennedy was a communications specialist with the U.S. Army during the Persian Gulf War and in Mogadishu, Somalia. After that, as a civilian reporter with the Times News Service, Kennedy returned to the Middle East – Iraq – to report on the medical issues of war.

Kennedy’s focus for the Army Times, a Gannett-owned newspaper, was the health beat.

She wrote stories about traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicide, and stress relief. While the magazine’s audience is mainly people in the armed forces, her “Wounded Warrior” story in February of 2007 put the Army Times and the Army at the forefront of American readers’ attention.

“The story was floating around for years, but I don’t think anyone thought it was real. When a lieutenant colonel told me about the conditions there, I believed him,” says Kennedy.

She had the personal experience to back up her belief. After returning from her service in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993, Kennedy was sent to Walter Reed because she was fainting often. “They told me there was no such thing as hypoglycemia and sent me on my way,” says Kennedy.

Because Walter Reed is the main hospital that soldiers are sent to when returning from war, Kennedy thought the story would generate great reaction, and it did. “The change was pretty immediate. Generals were being fired and new medical personnel were arriving,” says Kennedy.

Journalism impacting culture

One of Kennedy’s rewards as a journalist is being able to help people. “I wrote a story about traumatic brain injuries. In sports, they’ll pull you from the game if you have a brain injury, but in the military they don’t. I’m trying to educate soldiers and their superiors about what to look for,” she says.
An Army infantryman takes cover in a firefight with guerilla forces in a section of Baghdad.
Although most of her colleagues do not have experience in the armed forces, Kennedy believes that her experience serves her well as a journalist. “Because I was in the Army, I know to ask about things that other people wouldn’t know,” she says.

But, she says, the Army has changed a lot since she was in it. “During the Persian Gulf, there was no information about PTSD. The culture, which followed a “suck it up” mentality, is changing,” she says.

Kennedy has now published a book called They Fought for Each Other, due out March 15. She was embedded with Charlie Company, 1-26 Infantry, in Adhamiya, Iraq, in June 2007, and was with them for one of their worst days.

"In December 2006, 19-year-old Ross McGinnis threw himself on a grenade to save four friends. He received the Medal of Honor. A Humvee rolled over a roadside bomb, killing two soldiers and severely burning the others.

"In June, a Bradley hit another bomb, and it killed five soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter. Soon after, a well-loved first sergeant in the battalion, 1SG Jeff McKinney, killed himself in front of his men after not sleeping, eating or drinking for several days.

"Then, a second Bradley hit a bomb, instantly killing four soldiers. The platoon I embedded with was accused of mutiny after they refused to go out after the second Bradley was hit. They said they feared they would kill everyone they saw if they went out because they were so full of rage. Charlie Company lost 14 men, and Second Platoon came home without nine of their friends."

In Dec. 2010, Kennedy joined USA Today as a health policy reporter, covering the Affordable Care Act.


Contact: Beth Etter
E-mail: beth.etter@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-6533