When a soldier is seriously injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, there's a good chance he'll soon be flying thousands of miles to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where doctors are waiting to put him back together.
One year ago, Dr. Dean Lorich, associate director of orthopedic trauma service at New York Presbyterian Hospital and the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, was one of those doctors helping soldiers who have been rushed to Germany for treatment.
"From my standpoint you just can't say no to going," Lorich told FOXNews.com. "No matter how much of an inconvenience — if you believe what our country is about, you go when you're asked."
Lorich was the fourth orthopedic surgeon to participate in the Landstuhl visiting scholars program, a joint partnership between the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the Orthopedic Trauma Association. Each surgeon is required to have at least 10 years of trauma experience.
The mission of the program is simple: train military surgeons to be the best they can be and save lives in the process. Lorich said he never stopped working in the two-and-half weeks he was in Landstuhl.
"Every day tended to be busy," he said. "Some days more than others, depending on what was happening in Iraq or Afghanistan."
On one particular day, there was an attack on a military compound in Baghdad.
"We got 10 soldiers on that Friday and just operated all through the night," Lorich said. "The injuries were absolutely devastating. That night, two people lost three limbs each. We just don’t see that in the civilian world."
Most of the injuries Lorich treated were the result of improvised explosive devices or roadside bombs. Lorich recalled one soldier who came in with two broken legs after an IED attack.
“He was a special ops guy –- really highly trained –- and I told him he wouldn’t have normal semblance of function on his left side," he said. "I said you might be better with amputation and he said do whatever. ... I have to get back to my unit.”
It was this kind of dedication that inspired Lorich –- and ultimately changed the way he looked at life.
"It’s a totally humbling experience," he said. "You leave different from when you went. It makes you appreciate your home and your family. It was just life-altering."
And it wasn’t just the soldiers who left a lasting impression on Lorich.
"These military doctors would be scrubbing patients down as they slept," he said, "cleaning off the sand and debris to give the soldier as much dignity as they could. You just can’t believe what these guys do."
Landstuhl, the largest American hospital outside of the United States, is located about 10 minutes from Ramstein Air Force Base, where soldiers are medivaced in from the battlefields. Since 2001, the hospital has treated more than 50,000 soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When Lorich was asked if he’d go back — he didn’t hesitate.
"I would go back in a heartbeat," he added. "I definitely took more away from it than I gave."