I am writing this as a nurse who has just come back from Operation Enduring Freedom where I worked on the battlefield with some amazing surgeons and flight nurses. I think the American people need to know that many, many surgeons, physicians, nurses, and physical therapists are working around the clock to help save the lives of wounded soldiers in this ongoing War on Terror. There isn’t enough said to support these unsung heroes.

We appreciate your reminder of the many people who live and work behind the scenes to aid our servicemembers in the Global War on Terror both in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan).

In the last 11 years, there have been more than 48,000 casualties among our American servicemen and women. That number doesn’t tell you the severity of injuries. Neither does it highlight the fact that many of our soldiers counted as one casualty, in fact, suffer multiple injuries. Some are minor; others are life-threatening.

The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted along the roadsides has caused many instances of lost limbs, eyes, and serous wounds. Spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis have been reported in a significant number of soldiers.

You are right when you say these folks are “unsung heroes.” It is to the credit of the medical personnel on the ground, in the air, and at our hospital bases that the lives of our soldiers are often spared and with injuries minimized. They work in extreme environmental conditions with very few resources while attempting to treat severe, complex war-time injuries. It’s not like anything seen or treated in the civilian world, even among gang-related hospitalizations.

Once our injured servicemembers return home, they may need to continue working toward recovery and function. The number of civilian medical personnel who assist should also be acknowledged and recognized. We join you in suggesting two things: if you know a member of the military or former military personnel, thank them each and every time you can. If you know of any social worker, vocational rehab counselor, physical therapist, nurse, physician or other professional who is helping our returned veterans, give them your thanks as well.