WASHINGTON – Brigid Brannagh and Sally Pressman act as soldier's wives on Lifetime's “Army Wives.” But reality kicked in when the two actresses met real wounded soldiers and their families at Walter Reed Army Medical Center Tuesday.
The actresses visited soldiers in the hospital during the day and attended a red carpet event featuring episode 205,”The Hero Returns,” which will air Sunday at 10 p.m. EDT.
Brannagh,who plays Pamela Moran on the show,couldn't hold back the tears as she spoke to more than 100 soldiers and real Army wives before the feature presentation in auditorium on the hospital grounds.
“Today,being here at Walter Reed has been amazing,” Brannagh said. “It is so magical,and I'm impressed in such a profound way. I can't believe all that you do. I'm grateful right now,grateful to have been with you today. I just want to thank you for the bottom of my heart.”
Pressman,who plays Roxy LeBlanc,said the main reason she loves acting on the show is because it's so realistic.
“We have military advisers on the show,so anytime you're unsure of what you're doing,you have military advisers whose job is to tell you if something would never happen,” Pressman said.
Among the crowd was Lee Woodruff,wife of ABC news anchor Bob Woodruff. She said she isn't an Army wife,but knows what they go through. Her husband was a war correspondent before he took over for Peter Jennings on “World News Tonight.”
He was in Iraq for President George Bush's State of the Union. On Jan. 29,2006,she received the call every Army wife dreads.
“It was the president of ABC,David Westin,” Woodruff said. “He told me Bob was embedded going down a road and a 155 mm shell went off. Bob's skull was shattered from the blast,and he was in a comma for 36 days.”
She said brain trauma patients never fully recover,but her husband is doing well and has returned to work. After he began recovering from the injury,the couple wrote a book,”In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing,” which explains how they built their family and his recovery.
The couple also started the Bob Woodruff Family Foundation,which raises money to assist members of the military with cognitive rehabilitation and other health care needs following traumatic brain injury.
“Army Wives,” the highest-rated series in Lifetime's 24-year history,is filmed on location in Charleston,S.C.,near Fort Bragg. It's based on the book “Army Wives: The Unwritten Code of Military Marriage” by Tanya Biank.
Pressman added that the producers change the script based on the advice of military experts. Biank,who comes from a family full of members of the military,works as a military adviser for the show. Biank grew up on military posts during her father's 30 years of service. Her husband is in the Army,assigned to the Pentagon.
The show has grown so much in two seasons that even Sens. John McCain,R-Ariz.,and Barack Obama,D-Ill.,watch. Lifetime has aired 30-second messages from the presumptive presidential candidates from the two major parties. Full length versions of the salutes are available on the Lifetime Web site.