Love him or hate him, Garry Trudeau, the man responsible for the “Doonesbury” comic strip, is doing his part to help wounded troops and their families.
Trudeau is donating all his proceeds from the sale of his newly released book “The Long Road Home: One Step at a Time” to the Fisher House Foundation. Also, Andrews McMeel Publishing, the book’s publisher, is contributing 10 percent of its take from the book to Fisher House.
Considering that the $9.95 book has been out less than a month and already has sold thousands of copies, the financial benefit for the Fisher House could be substantial.
Fisher House offers family members of wounded troops temporary housing at little or no cost during their loved one’s hospitalization. With locations at 32 veterans and military hospitals throughout the United States and in Landstuhl, Germany, Fisher House is largely funded through private donations.
“The Long Road Home” tells the story of B.D., a popular “Doonesbury” character who, while serving in Fallujah, Iraq, is wounded and has his left leg amputated. The comic strip follows B.D. along his journey of injury and recovery — from Iraq to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany to the amputee ward at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
The book is a reprint of the “Doonesbury” story line that began in March 2004 and was featured in roughly 1,400 daily newspapers.
“He [Trudeau] has a genuine caring and concern for these kids,” said Jim Weiskopf, vice president of communications for Fisher House Foundation. “In his own journalistic manner, he wanted to tell the American public what these amputees have gone through, and he’s really done it well.”
Not bad praise for Trudeau, an opponent of the war in Iraq, considering it’s coming from Weiskopf, a retired Army colonel.
In addition, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a former naval aviator who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, wrote the foreword to Trudeau’s 93-page book.
“Biting but never cynical, and often wickedly funny, these comic strips will make you laugh, reflect, and — in the end — understand,” according to McCain’s foreword. “Like B.D., the thousands of soldiers who have left their health or their limbs on the battlefield have done so in the service of all of us.”
That the book brought Trudeau, McCain and the Fisher House together warms the heart of Erin Friedrich, senior editor at Andrews McMeel Publishing in Kansas City, Mo.
“I think it proves that anybody can work together to get anything done — even those with different ideologies,” said Friedrich, who served as editor of “The Long Road Home.”
However, Trudeau is not without his opponents.
Trudeau and his “Doonesbury” comic strip have taken plenty of heat from readers of this newspaper. Readers of Stars and Stripes have criticized the comic strip for its liberal leanings and the political jabs the cartoon takes at the current presidential administration and government leaders.
At the same time, a number of readers wrote to the paper upholding Trudeau’s right to free expression.
While B.D.’s story line was running in “Doonesbury,” Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly wrote that Trudeau was using someone’s personal tragedy to advance a political agenda.
Now that the book is available, about 2,000 copies of “The Long Road Home” are being given to caregivers and wounded troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Sgt. Travis Stoddard, who was shot in the left leg June 21 while serving in Afghanistan, read a portion of “The Long Road Home” during his recovery at Landstuhl.
From his bed at the hospital, Stoddard said he liked the book.
“I’m happy I didn’t lose a limb like B.D.,” said the 25-year-old from Greenville, S.C. “I felt sorry for him. That book is all right.”