William Krissoff was almost 60 years old when his son, 1st Lt. Nathan Krissoff, was killed during combat operations in Iraq. William, an orthopedic surgeon from Truckee, Calif., wanted nothing else other than to honor his son by joining the fight and bringing his services to the Navy Medical Corps, but he was told by a Navy recruiter that he was 19 years over the age limit. After applying for an age waiver, William and his family, along with other families of fallen service members, met former President George W. Bush. While speaking with the former president, William said he would like to join the Navy Medical Corps. Two days later, his waiver was approved and his journey was underway.
William is now a lieutenant commander serving as an orthopedic surgeon to a forward resuscitative surgical system and is deployed with Combat Logistics Battalion 4.
How did the meeting with President George W. Bush come about? What emotions did you feel during the encounter? Our family met President Bush in Reno with other families who had lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. When he spoke to the American Legion, I felt a cascade of emotions as this was a very heartfelt meeting for all of us there.
When did you decide you were going to make the transition into the Navy? I decided to try and join Navy medicine after meeting my late son’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Bill Seely from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion out of Okinawa.
How did Lt. Col. Seely inspire you? I remember asking him who provided medical care for his battalion and he described the surgeon who was with them during their deployment. I recall thinking that joining the Navy to take care of deployed Marines would be a challenging and a rewarding new task for me; something completely different than the private practice of orthopedic sports medicine at Lake Tahoe. It would also give me a chance to serve my country.
How does your family feel about you entering the service? My wife and son fully supported me joining the Navy Medical Corps and deploying. To paraphrase my wife: “My men are serving their Country at a time of war.” I could not do this without their steadfast support.
Did your surviving son, 1st Lt. Austin Krissoff, have any guidance or advice for you? He sent me a note after my commissioning, welcoming me to the fight. He’s been very helpful and encouraging along the way.
In a previous article you said you preferred your work in the Navy compared to your work as a civilian. Why is that? The focus is on taking care of the patient and not on contracts and financial issues. Navy medicine works as a team to take care of injured sailors and Marines. It’s very collegial and supportive.
Were you physically prepared for your naval journey? I haven’t had difficulty with the physical requirements of the job and I have met Navy and Marine fitness standards. I have always tried to stay in good physical condition by using a gym program, hiking, swimming, kayaking and skiing.
Have you set any goals since you enlisted? I want to bring the best care possible to our nation’s finest.
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