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Former Naval Captain, now Sanford doctor, finds camaraderie with patients that have also served

This Veteran's Day, a Fargo veteran is carrying on his service as a doctor at Sanford Health.

FARGO — Dr. John Bassett comes from a military lineage. Both of his grandfathers served in World War II.

"I can still look at my father, who has his father's Purple Heart, and that was something that I looked up to growing up," Bassett said.

Now, after a 21-year career in the Navy behind him, the former Captain is the medical director of hepatology at Sanford Health.

It is a position where he consistently runs into other vets, typically in the form of patients.

"Immediately there's a connection that you have, and you may not have a lot of time with all your patients, but if you both had military service, there's a shared adversity that often goes with that," Bassett said.


One of those patients is Donald Gronke. He is a former officer trainer and Master Gunnery Sergeant. He retired in 2001 after a 25-year Marine Corps career.

"I tell you, it makes a big difference when we have a doctor that has been in the military, because it seems like there's a bond that is there that they really care about you," Gronke said.

Gronke is being treated by Bassett for liver and kidney issues. He says having veteran doctors like Bassett helps bring back that sense of camaraderie.

"We know where we're coming from, and we can speak the language to each other, and we're not afraid to say what's on our mind," Gronke said.

Gronke and Bassett, humble and proud servants, are celebrated on Veterans Day and every day.

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