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Service & Sacrifice: Burn surgeon honored

A veteran of the war in Vietnam devoted much of his life to repairing the lives of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who were wounded and burned badly in battle.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pain. Inordinate amounts of pain. 

That is how Doctor Tim Miller describes what it is like caring for a burn patient in the early stages of their injuries.

“I learned that war is something you just don’t want to have. It’s terrible,” said Miller. 

He is a veteran who has devoted much of his life to helping repair the lives of wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan through a charity he co-founded called Operation Mend.

“Almost exclusively IEDs roadside bombs. They would be in a truck or a vehicle and it was set on fire and then they were on fire,” said Dr. Miller.

His non-profit helped marry the physical recovery, including sometimes sixteen surgeries on one wound, with the mental health recovery effort by enlisting the help of psychologists.

Credit: John Becker
Dr. Tim Miller is a co-founder of the charity Operation Mend devoted to improving the lives of wounded warriors

“That’s me, I’m about ready to surgery in Vietnam,” said Dr. Miller in a recent Zoom interview.

As he said it, he held up a photo taken of him during the mid-1960s as a member of the Army serving along U.S. Special Forces and working to save the lives of soldiers and civilians during the war in Vietnam.

“We were taking care of people that were in firefights, we had them all the time. They were brought in with bullet wounds and they were not in the best of shape,” said Dr. Miller.

For his lifetime of service and devotion to saving and improving the lives of others, Dr. Miller is about to be honored by Medal of Honor recipients at their gathering this year in Knoxville.

“I had no idea it was coming,” said Dr. Miller who will be awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award from a group of veterans who have received the military’s highest award for valor.

The annual gathering for the living recipients of the Medal of Honor is set for the first full week in September and Dr. Miller will receive his tribute during the Patriot Awards Gala on Saturday, September 10.

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