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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

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May 13th, 2013
02:16 PM ET

Web exclusive: 'Doonesbury' creator on supporting wounded warriors

Watch CNN at 4pm for our full interview with 'Doonesbury' comic strip creator Garry Trudeau. In the meantime, a teaser Q & A between CNN's Jake Tapper and Garry Trudeau.

Jake: You have been very clear about distinguishing between the troops who fight the wars and the men who send them off to fight. You've been very active in supporting the troops.

Garry: In 1992 - I mean, 1990, '91, when the - during the Gulf War, I went over to Kuwait. It took me a long time to get over there. First, the White House was trying to keep me out. And then after that the Army invited me over and then the Saudis didn't want me in because I'd been writing about how they'd been sitting out the war.

But I finally got over there and there was a colonel in charge of an armored brigade outside of Kuwait City named Bill Nash. And he said, 'Okay, here's the deal. You can fly over the battlefield; you can fly - use our toys, go on the choppers, go in the armored personnel carriers and do that to your heart's content. But then in the evenings, I want you to sit down and talk to me, talk to these guys. [...] I want you to take the measure of this new professional Army, because the Army you wrote about through Vietnam, you know, these conscripts that I had to wrangle as a young lieutenant in Vietnam, they're very different.'

And so they had come off of this four-, five-day war and I sat down and talked them. And I started getting involved in their issues and starting hearing those voices.

And in the years that followed, I kind of stayed with it so that when the invasion of Iraq took place and I sent B.D. over for another round of mayhem, and he loses his leg, the [Department of Defense] reached out immediately and they said, "Come down to Walter Reed. Talk to the guys who've been through this. Talk to their caregivers. We'll let you - give you the run of the place."

And I think the idea was maybe you're more likely to get it right if we actually partner on this.

So I spent the next several years following those issue downstream, first B.D. with his loss of limb, and then subsequently his battle with PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder]. And then I moved onto military sexual problems, which is much in the news now. And tried to -

Jake: And you have a character with traumatic brain injury also.

Garry: Right. I have one with - who's suffering from trauma from a sexual assault and then Toggle, who is - who was blown up and has TBI. So I've tried to stick with the wounded warrior issues and honor the soldiers who - and other military personnel who've waged these two wars on our behalf.

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