Alumni

Be all that you can be

March 6, 2008

A civilian reporter with the Times News Service, CSU alumnus and former editor of the Rocky Mountain Collegian Kelly Kennedy is earning accolades as a military journalist.

“I joined the Army because I wanted to pay for school,” says Kelly Kennedy (Bogdanowicz) (’97). From 1989 to 1993, Kennedy was a communications specialist with the U.S. Army during the Persian Gulf War and in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Now, as a civilian reporter with the Times News Service, Kennedy’s focus is on traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicide, and stress relief.

A year of awards and honors

Last fall, Kennedy was named an Ochberg Fellow by the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma, and was one of 10 recipients of the twelfth annual Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism.

Additionally, she was a finalist for the 2008 Michael Kelly Award, honored for Blood Brothers, a four-part series, chronicling the 15-month tour of duty of an Army battalion that lost 31 soldiers in Iraq, making it the hardest-hit battalion since the Vietnam War. Her book on the experiences of the battalion is due out next year.

Breaking the big story

While the Times News Service audience is mainly people in the armed forces, her Wounded and Waiting story in February 2007 put the Army Times and the Army at the forefront of American readers’ attention. Kennedy’s story on the treatment of soldiers at the Walter Reed Medical Center was released one day before a very similar story by the Washington Post.

“The story was floating around for years, but I don’t think anyone thought it was real. When a lieutenant colonel told me about the conditions there, I believed him,” says Kennedy. And she had the personal experience to back up her belief. After returning from her service in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993, Kennedy was sent to Walter Reed because she was fainting often. “They told me there was no such thing as hypoglycemia and sent me on my way,” says Kennedy.

Because Walter Reed is the main hospital that soldiers are sent to when returning from war, Kennedy thought the story would generate great reaction, and it did. “The change was pretty immediate. Generals were being fired and new medical personnel were arriving,” says Kennedy.

Rewards from the profession

One of Kennedy’s rewards as a journalist for the Army Times is being able to help people. “I recently wrote a story about traumatic brain injuries. In sports, they’ll pull you from the game if you have a brain injury, but in the military they don’t. I’m trying to educate soldiers and their superiors about what to look for,” she says.

Although most of her colleagues do not have experience in the armed forces, Kennedy believes that her experience serves her well as a journalist. “Because I was in the Army, I know to ask about things that other people wouldn’t know,” she says. But, she says, the Army has changed a lot since she was in it. “During the Persian Gulf, there was no information about PTSD. The culture, which followed a “suck it up” mentality, is changing,” she says.

As the culture of the military changes, the war goes on, and medical issues arise, Kelly Kennedy will continue to be a voice for soldiers and their needs.

Read moreTales From the Sandbox

Kelly Kennedy has also served as an Alumni Admissions Ambassador for CSU. In that volunteer role, she assisted in recruiting students in her area to come to CSU. Alumni Admissions Ambassadors represent CSU at high school college fairs and share their personal Colorado State experience with prospective students.

This story by Beth Etter, ’03, is part of the Alumni Spotlight series on CSUAlum.com.


Contact: Beth Etter
E-mail: elizabeth.etter@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-3591