Long before Bruce Springsteen took the stage at the annual Stand Up for Heroes benefit in New York, Bob and Lee Woodruff joked about how they get The Boss to perform so frequently. “Sometimes, I have done things I’m not proud of,” joked Lee Woodruff. “Wait a minute, what is that?” Bob asked while laughing.“I’ll tell you later,” Lee shot back.
During the 15 years that the event has taken place, Springsteen has only missed it once, in 2017 when he was performing his Broadway show. “We don’t have to ask him. He comes to us,” Bob Woodruff said about the event that raises money to help injured veterans and their families. This year’s event at Lincoln Center raised $4.6 million. The Bob Woodruff Foundation was started by the 60-year-old ABC journalist after he was seriously injured by an improvised explosive device while covering the war in Iraq in 2006.
Monday’s (Nov. 8) show also included Jon Stewart, Brandi Carlisle, Grace Gaustad and the group Sing Harlem. Comedians Jim Gaffigan, Nate Bargatze and Donnell Rawlings also performed. The organization raised money from tickets and an auction and is part of the New York Comedy Festival. Nikki Glaser, who was also in the lineup, says she was honored to support the charity but worried that her brand of sharp, attack humor wasn’t always appropriate.
“There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to make people feel uncomfortable with some kind of material. But at the same time, I’m like, they don’t need me to be soft or to hold back,” she said. “So, I’m struggling with that.” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also attended and said she was committed to ensuring that returning military not fall through the cracks of society. “They may not realize that they have PTSD. They may not realize that they have emotional and psychological wounds that they’re almost embarrassed to talk about. We have to make sure we remove the stigma and make services like telehealth services available,” Hochul said.
Current and former military were at the event, including five members of the Marine company involved in the deadly ambush in Kabul that left 13 American service members killed in August during the Afghanistan withdrawal. Bob Woodruff’s own injuries covering the Iraq war has created a bond with wounded members of the military, including one of the evening’s honorees, former Staff Sergeant Brad Lang.
Lang lost his legs in 2011 after an IED went off, and spent nine months recovering at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Washington D.C. He sees Woodruff as someone who does more than run a foundation, but as someone who understands the plight of wounded veterans. “I think it’s great. It’s somebody that can relate to us as we can relate to him. And I think it’s an intimacy that you don’t share with a lot of other organizations,” Lang said. And who was he most excited to see perform? “Bruce Springsteen, of course. I mean, come on,” Lang said.