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November 20th, 2009
04:46 PM ET

Why can't we share the truth about war?

Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster appear in a new film as Army officers assigned to notify families of the deaths of loved ones.

Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster appear in a new film as Army officers assigned to notify families of the deaths of loved ones.

Oren Moverman
Special to CNN

There are dozens of get-well cards on his wall. On his bed, there's another pile from family, friends, high school pals. The patient must be 19 or 20 - a kid - and his smile is magnetic.

His mother hugs every visitor, strangers like us included. "I'm a hugger," she explains. His girlfriend is by his bedside too, wearing a sweatshirt from her college in upstate New York, her studies interrupted.

"My leg will never be a hundred percent," he says, "which means I just have to get a new hundred percent."

It helps that we were visiting this wounded soldier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a few weeks ago, with the actor Woody Harrelson, instantly recognizable from TV and movies. Woody is profoundly good-natured and can make anyone smile, even the maimed young men and women, just back from a combat zone they carried home with them. But this particular soldier/kid is happy anyway. Happy to be alive, mature enough to be grateful.

A few weeks earlier, an Afghan soldier he had known for eight months - a man who fought by his side - turned his rifle on his American "allies" and killed two of this soldier's buddies, wounding three, including him. This kid knows he's among the lucky ones.

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