Dr. Nancy Taft says she's better for the experience -professionally, and in truly appreciating the gift of life.
The breast cancer surgeon who signed up for the reserve two weeks before the September 11th attacks presents a battle-flown flag to her colleagues.
Taft left for her third tour of duty on the day her 34-year old daughter went in for breast cancer surgery herself.
''Part of it is heartbreaking, you only have little resources over there and you have so many patients, but I am a better person because I look at life, I appreciate life,I look at circumstances, and I appreciate small things,'' Taft said.
The Lieutenant-Colonel headed to the forward operating bases beyond Kandahar, Afghanistan in late August 2013.
Her task was to prepare field hospitals to be ready and able to perform surgeries on soldiers in 90 minutes.
''You are mainly controlling the bleeding and any spillage from the bowel and packing them up and shipping them out,'' Taft said.
Dr. Taft did her part for breast cancer awareness in October 2013.
She says working with soldiers where encounters with the Taliban are just an occupational hazard
''What happened out in Boston, I really believe that a lot of those patients were saved with information we have gathered from this war,'' Taft said.
Little Company of Mary has practiced its healing mission since the 1880s, particularly on behalf of women.
The flag's return signals a renewal of that mission, with a citizenship lesson.
''Our own mission is to take care of those that are injured, it certainly is a reminder of the many men and women that are in Afghanistan,'' Sister Kathleen McIntyre said.
Dr. Taft remains in the reserve and could get called back after 18 months. She's eligible to get out now and is currently considering her options.