Brooks Army Medical Center (BAMC) is a Texas hospital to which veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are flown to recover from serious burns and other injuries.
In mid-December 2004, actor, film director, and film producer Denzel Washington visited Brooks to express his appreciation to those veterans. While there, Denzel was told about Fisher Houses, lodgings where families can stay to be near their injured loved ones. Because military families often have limited incomes, this onsite housing is provided at little or no cost. That being the case–and also given the always-increasing number of patients–Fisher Houses fill up quickly with more always being needed.
Although Denzel was initially reported to have responded by writing a check which covered the entire cost of a new Fisher House, those facts were somewhat exaggerated according to snopes.com. While Washington did make a sizable donation to the medical center, he did not get out his check book on the spot, since Mr. Washington rarely carries a check book with him. Additionally, the contribution was made a month later and did not cover the complete cost of new housing.
It is essential to note that the above clarifications are by no means attempts to diminish this celebrity’s generosity. If anything, I was surprised not to have heard about this sooner since it occurred 8 years ago.
While I can appreciate that inquiring minds want to know about things like celebrity marriages, their often-quick divorces, and struggles with addictions, I still find it sad that gossip about others’ painful, private hells can garnish many a magazine page while goodness and mercy don’t even make page four. I commend Denzel Washington for giving back and making good matter. While it’s disappointing that this deed went unrecognized, it is also encouraging to see that he didn’t care to garner publicity, either. In an age when people are so often doing good deeds with the required presence of an army of photographers and press, this quiet and generous act was never thrust into the limelight for his own gain. It was simply a gift he felt needed to be given.
While writing this, I thought not only about the horrors of war, but also tried to imagine what life must be like for the blind and vision impaired in war-torn countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. If any readers are from Iraq or Afghanistan, I’d be interested in hearing whatever they feel able to share about the impact of war on their lives as persons who are blind.