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March 09, 2007

My second Salon story: Interview with "Wounded Marine" photographer

My interview with Nina Berman is on the cover of the Saturday edition of Salon.

Berman is the photographer who took the famous picture of wounded Marine Sgt. Ty Ziegel on his wedding day.

Renee and Ty's mom were able to stay with Ty while he was recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas because of the generosity of Fisher House, a charity that gives the families of soldiers a place to stay while their loved ones are recovering.

As Nina Berman points out in the interview, medical technology is saving more catastrophically wounded soldiers than in any previous conflict. Many of these troops need long series of operations. They are sent to facilities like Brooke Army that may be far away from their home towns. The government might pay for a family to come out for a week, but that's it.

Fisher House gives families the opportunity to stay close to their loved ones for weeks or months. Ty says that he wouldn't have survived his 19 surgeries at Brooke Army if Renee and his mom hadn't been there to support him. Click here to support the work of this remarkable charity.


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Thanks and congratulations, it was very informative.

Thanks for doing this interview. I've worried about those two ever since I saw the photo . . . and I certainly realize they're only the tip of the iceberg.

Congratulations! It must be nice to go from a long time reader and commenter on the discussion boards to a two time cover girl.

Loneliness and isolation were the strongest impressions I recieved from the photo. I'm very glad, however, that Berman didn't intrude upon any thoughts or emotions Renee wasn't willing to volunteer herself.

Very good interview, Lindsay. Thanks for doing it.


Wonderful interview, and always great to see someone follow up on how a returning injured Vet is doing. Their wedding photo is one that I doubt I'll ever forget. I agree with the statement above that loneliness and isolatiion were also my strongest impressions, and perhaps a bit of a call for help.

Really good, Lindsay. Damn, I remember back when you made the decision to quit your "day" job. You are doing so well - I'm glad you've launched yourself into this uncertain, important, vital new career.

Do you know if there are plans for future reconstructive surgery for Ty? On the one hand, it seems unlikely that the VA would pay for a whole lot beyond basic functionality. But in the private sector.... Frankly, I don't know what's new and/or experimental in facial reconstructive surgery for burn injuries. But if anyone deserved pro bono-type medical care, it'd be these burn survivors.

Thanks, larkspur. I read in one of the newspaper accounts that Ty is going to get more surgery to remove the skull fragments that are still in his body, but not for a while. I'm not sure what other procedures are planned.

In the interview, I learned that the community college in Ty and Renee's town offered Renee free tuition, and Ty really wants her to take advantage of the opportunity. I believe Nina Berman's original People assignment prompted the college to make the tuition offer.

Lindsay, Wow, this is very good stuff. Even though I don't know you well, I've become an avid fan ...
Quitting your day job would then be the best thing you've ever done. The world called and you answered and that's a beautiful thing.
I remember when my much older boyfriend returned from service some years ago ... and was ignored, basically.
That won't happen to these men and women with people like you around ...
Thank you.

Congratulations. I'm glad to see you publishing stories for Salon, I always loved them, and, of course, came to this site through them.

You know, this whole time I thought the groom was a black man.

It's nice to hear about the couple.

I'm surprised that pro-war sites link to this, but glad. Seems like pro-war and anti-war activists alike feel the need to honor the sacrifice; only the administration and the mainstream media wants to cover it up.

Berman says something that strikes me as reductive to the point of being false:

There's a very palpable reality to this war in certain communities. It's right there, not in the cities or on the coasts.

I think I've more than established my non-coastal bona fides before. But understanding and giving credit to regionalism in the United States means not buying into stereotyped assumptions about the populations of those regions.

Here's a list of the Iraq casualties from my current adopted coastal-state home. Also note the very high number of casualties from New York and California.

Granted, these aren't per capita numbers. But the truth is that the reality of the war isn't absent from coastal states. It's absent from the specific coastal communities in which media elites operate. To pretend that those communities represent entire geographic populaces is insulting.

I live in Northern California, and I've lost count of the number of local people the news has announced we've lost (though, as always, with never a shot of a coffin or a funeral, and certainly never a photograph like this one).

Excellent interview. Thanks for providing more insight into this photo.

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