The Day “Doc” Goss Became a Nurse

The Day “Doc” Goss Became a Nurse

From Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul Second Dose

The Day “Doc” Goss Became a Nurse

One of the things that has helped me as much as any other, is not how long I am going to live, but how much I can do while living.

George Washington Carver

In March 1969, shortly after graduating from the United States Navy’s corpsman school, Jim Goss received his orders to report to Alpha Company, First Battalion 7th Marine Regiment of the First Marine Division.

Jim became a navy sailor attached to the Fleet Marine Force. Normally this would be a nightmare, given the 200 years of rivalry between these two services, but Jim was a corpsman and they were special. Upon arriving in Vietnam, marine green was the color for all. The young marines, as well as the older noncoms and officers, were now “his boys” in the field and he was “Doc.”

Jim’s nineteen weeks in corpsman school, however, could not have prepared him for the carnage that awaited him in Southeast Asia’s jungles. He witnessed and treated wounds that experienced emergency room physicians in this country never dreamed of seeing. And he treated those men while under fire.

In late 1969, North Vietnamese regulars overran the firebase where Jim was just outside of Da Nang. During that firefight, Jim held compresses with one hand and his .45 automatic pistol with the other. He covered wounded bodies with his own trying to keep them alive. With adrenaline running through his veins, Jim did not know how bad the shrapnel from an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) had wounded him until hours later when he took a shower.

For his valor, Jim Goss received the Bronze Star, and for his wounds he received the Purple Heart. And from his “boys” he received their undying love and thanks.

When Jim returned home from his military service he went to work as a parts manager at an automobile dealership for five years. But his passion for caring called him and he went to nursing school and graduated with an associate degree. “Doc” Goss had become a nurse. He worked in the emergency rooms of several hospitals and also managed a paramedic unit.

Then his passion for caring called him further—full circle. He went to work for the U.S. Veterans Hospital in Coatsville, Pennsylvania, working in the post-traumatic stress disorder unit that he heads today.

He eventually earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing, but nothing has really changed with Jim as he takes care of “his boys.”

Though he is their charge nurse, they still call him “Doc.”

Patrick Mendoza

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