VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, California
After joining the Army at 18, Brian McMillion served active duty in the first Gulf War and spent years working as a military medic. With a master's degree in nursing, he is currently taking care of injured soldiers at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Medical Command.
"In 2003, I was called away as a mobilized reservist to Landstuhl, a regional medical center in Germany that was a landing point for all of the medical evacuations coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan. You would go into the ICU and check to see if someone would be ready to go, and they had just woken up from being in a coma, or woken up from sedation that was needed because they were intubated, and you'd pull a tube out of their throat, and one of the first things they would say to you—laying there missing limbs—is, 'When can I go back?' Something happens to you inside when you hear that. You love them tremendously at that moment, but you also want to smack them and say, 'No! You ain't going anywhere. You've already given enough, brother.'"