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Wounded Marines Praise Medical Care, Relate Iraq Experiences

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., April 3, 2008 – Two Marines who were injured in Iraq praised the medical care they’ve received at the National Naval Medical Center here during interviews yesterday in conjunction with a grand re-opening ceremony for their newly renovated outpatient quarters.

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Wounded Iraq combat veterans Marine Cpl. Daniel B. Nicholson, left, and Marine Lance Cpl. Michael S. Stilson attend a reopening ceremony for newly renovated Mercy Hall, an outpatient quarters for injured troops on the National Naval Medical Center campus in Bethesda, Md., April 2, 2008. Both Marines praised the quality of medical care provided at Bethesda. Defense Dept. photo by Gerry J. Gilmore

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Iraq combat veterans Cpl. Daniel B. Nicholson and Lance Cpl. Michael S. Stilson live in Mercy Hall on the medical center’s campus.

Nicholson, a native of Brevard, N.C., joined the Marines in June 2005. The tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missile gunner was wounded by a roadside bomb while riding in a truck in Anbar province in November 2006. He suffered injuries to his left arm and face. After arriving at Bethesda a few days after being wounded, he underwent numerous surgeries to repair his broken jaw and lacerated face.

The medical care provided at Bethesda is “tremendous,” Nicholson said.

“The zeal of the staff here at the hospital is just outstanding. … I couldn’t ask for anything better,” he emphasized.

Nicholson said his plans include marriage and going back to school to become a high school history teacher.

Wars have been fought since mankind began, Nicholson said. But war also produces peace, he added. The war against global terrorism is an important endeavor, he said, noting that fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq precludes fighting them at home.

Nicholson said the excellent medical care he has received at Bethesda makes him feel appreciated and that his service in Iraq wasn’t performed in vain.

“What the patients need, they get” at Bethesda, he said.

Stilson, who hails from Clarkston, Wash., was wounded by a roadside bomb while on dismounted patrol in Anbar province in September.

“Every bone in my left arm was broken,” Stilson recalled, noting he’d also suffered severe shrapnel injuries to both of his legs.

Stilson echoed Nicholson’s praise of the medical care provided at Bethesda.

”You really don’t have any other place, I don’t think, that really cares for everybody like they do (at Bethesda),” he said.

Injured Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are getting the best medical care available at Bethesda, and “they do everything they can for the guys that got wounded over there,” the Marine rifleman added.

Stilson, who joined the Marines in August 2006, said he believes the mission in Iraq isn’t completed.

“When you’re there, you want to finish the job for those guys who didn’t make it back,” he said.

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