I deployed to Iraq recently with a combat support hospital. Our mission was to provide trauma medicine to our injured troops and U.S. civilians. We also provided care to local civilians. We treated thousands of sick and wounded; we saved lives and alleviated suffering for many.

One special patient, a small child we affectionately called “Baby A,” taught me heart-rending, life-long lessons over a month-long period. He was severely burned during a home accident in his village and transported to us. From the moment he arrived, he was surrounded by a team of dedicated, skilled and compassionate medical professionals. As you might imagine, the suffering of a small child energizes you to levels beyond description and pulls you together even more strongly than you thought possible to try to beat the impossible. We were a very tight team. “Baby A” made us tighter.

To see a baby fight through unimaginable pain from many surgeries and other treatments drives you to do better than your best, to exhaust all within you emotionally, physically and spiritually to save a precious life. “Baby A” had some promising moments but did not survive. I along with others could see “Baby A” through his bandaged body and could feel an eerie peace when holding him. Call it imagination during a time of deep stress, but that is what “Baby A” taught me: more hope, more compassion, more drive against insurmountable odds.

— Col. Steve Jones, Washington

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