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Robert D' Ambrosia, MD

As a flight surgeon with the 497th Air Force Fighter Squadron, Dr. Robert D’Ambrosia served in Vietnam and Thailand from 1965 to 1967. “The Squadron was dropping cluster bombs on supply routes and the Viet Cong and inadvertently killing innocent civilians because it was difficult to differentiate the Viet Cong.” He gained solace from treating orphans of war at the Ava Maria orphanage while in Southeast Asia and after his return to the US, as a benefactor of the orphanage. Dr. D’Ambrosia now cares for Army and Air Force troops going to and returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, among other veterans. “As a doctor, I want my patients to be as whole and healthy as possible, but their expectations sometimes are bigger than their bodies’ abilities to heal and cope,” Dr. D’Ambrosia says. He is optimistic about the potential for better treatments, especially those emerging from ongoing research in artificial limb replantation and stem cell regeneration. “I think we will see a great deal of advancement in how our bodies recover.”

The Cost of Freedom?

30 x 32 x 3 in.

Oil on Canvas

he painting captures the March burial of an Iraq war veteran in Santa Fe National Cemetery, as angry clouds lower over the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. “The title of this painting is part of my attempt to acknowledge not just the innumerable costs of combat everyone pays – but most especially those soldiers who make the ultimate sacrifice,” Dr. D’Ambrosia says. “If our leaders, particularly those who have never been in combat, commit our troops’ lives and bodies to pursue some undefined or nebulous political goal, we must question them. The value of each and every life is very dear and precious, so we should be absolutely sure that when one life, ten lives, thousands of lives are put at risk, that we are protecting something just as valuable. No one realizes this more than me, a veteran who managed to survive combat.”