Doctor saw front-line action – in Germany

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 24, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

David Goss never made it to the front lines during the Iraqi war.

He didn’t need to – the worst of the front-line made it him.


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Goss, a surgeon with Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Associates in Suffolk and member of the U.S. Army Reserves, spent most of Operation Iraqi Freedom stationed at Landstuhl Air Force Base in Germany. The base’s hospital was the main evacuation site for allied forces injured in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Goss, who got home in late July, returned to work with much fanfare and congratulations from his co-workers and nearby Obici Hospital earlier their month.

Goss, 33, and a team of four additional orthopaedic surgeons, spent 10-12 hours a day running orthopedic clinics, he said. Typically, the group would see from 20-30 patients daily and conduct 5-15 surgeries a week. During a routine week at home, Goss might perform 3-5 surgeries.

Besides an increased caseload, he said, his patients had experienced far more severe injuries than he usually saw at home.

&uot;Patients came in with huge wounds, often times missing arms and legs,&uot; Goss said.

Although the Allied bombings are over, the almost-daily shootings and attacks on Allied troops are continuing to impact daily life at Landstul.

&uot;July was the hospital’s heaviest month of traffic since before the war started,&uot; he said.

Goss believes the few months spent helping allied troops in Iraq have changed him, personally and professionally.

&uot;For one thing, it’s given me experience with so many different types of significant injuries,&uot; said Goss. &uot;Thinking of the best ways to deal with those injuries has made me step out of the box.

&uot;Anytime you have to deal with things you don’t normally see in a routine practice, I think it makes for a better physician.&uot;

It’s also given him a greater appreciation for the freedoms that comes with being United States citizen.

&uot;It made me thankful to be an American and proud to be part of the military,&uot; he said.

It’s made me extremely thankful for the men and women over there fighting. They are over there, sacrificing life and limb, getting paid little, and receiving no recognition. And they are happy to do it.&uot;

&uot;When they get home and you see them on the street, take time to stop and thank them,&uot; He continued. &uot;Let them know you are proud of them.

Goss, who joined the military in 1996, said he wouldn’t hesitate to do it all over again.

&uot;Military is such a big part of life in here,&uot; he said. &uot;I always thought I would do something that would contribute to the big military machine that is Hampton Roads.&uot;