RICHMOND, Va. -- Brothers Alex and Chris Pais know service to others has always been their mission.
It's a mission forged at a young age by influential parents who always encouraged them to give back to their country and their community.
"We grew up in a military family," Chris said. "Our Dad was a career Marine."
Joining the military seemed like a natural calling for both brothers.
"You go from being in high school to the military and it's just not a transition of growing up, it's leadership 101," Alex said.
Alex became a Marine and Chris joined the Army National Guard. Both brothers served overseas in the Middle East.
In 2011, the brothers came to Richmond to be close to their mother, a school nurse, who was battling stage IV cancer.
"Initially you hear the diagnosis of cancer and your world is shaken and you're rocked to the core," Chris said.
While both brothers were originally studying political science in their undergraduate studies, a career in medicine eventually seemed like a better fit.
"When my mother got really ill, we saw all the care teams that she had, surgeons and anyone she came into contact with," Alex said. "We were looking at an effective way to give back or continue serving after the military."
Both brothers applied to VCU's School of Medicine and were accepted as medical students.
Today, they are studying to become surgeons and hope to have a medical career working with veterans.
Alex recently completed his rotation at the McGuire VA Medical Center.
Chris says he feels fortunate the VA has provided care for his family over the years.
"It's special to know that I will have the opportunity to provide someone like myself the care and it's very meaningful for me to have access to that care," Chris said.
Both brothers say studying medicine at VCU, and the VA hospital is a chance to give back to others who have served our country.
"It's a perfect place to learn how to take care of patients and honor our mother by doing the best possible thing we can for our patients in the future," Alex said.