For the last 7 years, I have been working for a VA hospital in the Midwest. One night, I had the most interesting experience of my 23 years of professional nursing when I had the privilege to help care for 5 extraordinary patients. These 5 patients sent me back in time through the wars our nation have fought since 1942 to the present—all in one night.

I work the midnight tour in a small intensive care unit—6 beds, only 2 RNs working that shift. It was one cold and snowy night in December 2004. It was going to be one of those nights, I could just tell. As soon as I walked into the main lobby of the hospital, one of the police offers on duty that night told me to “head for the hills.” I just smiled and...

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