WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A few weeks before Christmas, I had the opportunity to once again visit some of America's finest young men and women who were wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom. These young warriors were recuperating in two of the finest medical institutions in the country -- the National Naval Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It is not the infrastructure, the architectural design or the budget that places these among the best. Like any first-rate institution, it is the people who make them great.
They are staffed by soldiers, sailors and Marines. Doctors, nurses and administrators -- both military and civilian -- ensure that the patients get the best medical care and are treated with respect. Understanding the healing power of love, they also care for the visiting family members.
These institutions also attract some of the finest volunteers on the planet.
They need to be, because their patients are the best and bravest of a new generation of Americans putting their lives on the line for the right to remain free. At this time of year, when we count our blessings, it is appropriate to pay tribute to the men and women -- from the corpsman on the battlefield to the doctor in the operating room -- who keep our troops alive and nurse them back to health.
Marine Capt. Brad Adams was riding in a Humvee near Fallujah in October when a boy riding a bike approached the vehicle. Hidden in the bike's basket was a bomb. It detonated and littered Adams' body with shrapnel. Adams has now undergone nine surgeries and has been recuperating for a month at the National Naval Medical Center. "The level of treatment we're getting here is outstanding," he said.
That sentiment is echoed by Cpl. Nicolas Roberts, who was badly injured from a gunshot wound in Ramadi. So far, he has undergone seven surgeries. Of his stay at Bethesda, he says, "I'm getting great care here -- this is the best hospital in the world."
The site for the National Naval Medical Center was chosen on July 5, 1938, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said the spring-fed pond on the land reminded him of the healing pool of Bethesda in John's Gospel. Today, the facility is commanded by Rear Adm. Adam Robinson Jr. and is known as "The President's Hospital," because sitting presidents receive their medical care there. In the past year, 1,200 wounded troops from both Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have passed through Bethesda's wards for quality care.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.