World War I ended with the armistice at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, which is why Veterans Day is observed on November 11 each year. Today marks 100 years since the signing of the armistice to end World War I.
Originally dubbed “Armistice Day” to mark the one year anniversary of the end of the war, it wasn’t until after Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, that Veterans Day was marked as an official national holiday in 1938.
This year, Salus nominated three of its employees for the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2018 Veterans of Influence Awards. The Veterans of Influence Award identifies and honors distinguished veterans currently working in the Greater Philadelphia region. Salus nominees were Charles Wormington, PhD, OD, FAAO, professor emeritus, Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO); John Gaal, FACHE, vice president for Clinical Operations; and David Smith, PA-C, assistant professor, College of Health Sciences.
Dr. Wormington had an illustrious career spanning over 37 years serving on both active duty and as a Reserve for the U.S. Air Force Medical Services. Originally entering active duty in 1969, Dr. Wormington served as an officer for the U.S. Air Force Medical Services, then in the Reserves from 1982 until 2005. While serving, he received numerous awards and decorations such as the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, National Defense Medal with One Device, Air Force Longevity Service with Five Devices, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Two Devices, and an Air Force Training Ribbon.
During his time at Salus and PCO, Dr. Wormington has been honored with the Onofrey G. Rybachok Educator of the Year Award in 1991, the Michael G. Harris Family Award for Excellence in Optometric Education in 2008, the annual Wormington 5K held by the Salus American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) chapter in his name, and by the OD class of 2012 with “Wormington Appreciation Day” to name a few.
Prior to his retirement as a colonel for the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps in 2013, John Gaal served as the chief operating officer at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Gaal was responsible for the oversight of administrative operations for the Joint Commission accredited academic medical center. For the past four years, he has served as vice president of Clinical Operations and has provided oversight to The Eye Institute, Pennsylvania Ear Institute and Speech-Language Institute in addition to participating in numerous community outreach initiatives.
The third nominee, David Smith, served as an infantryman of the Second Ranger Battalion for 10 years in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Smith always had an interest in the medical field and his interest was further deepened while he was providing instruction to first responders and training closely with a physician assistant during his service. After returning home, Smith proceeded to enroll in the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) Physician Assistant Studies Program and received his Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies in 2011. Prior to becoming an assistant professor at Salus, Smith had student precepting roles at both the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs and Suburban Community Hospitals. At Salus, Smith has become focused on establishing a close relationship and mutual understanding of expectations with each student he has had the opportunity to impact. “Teaching was something that I naturally enjoyed and took an interest in; having the opportunity to train my future colleagues is both an incredible responsibility and unbelievable honor,” he said.
In addition to honoring the nominees for the Veterans of Influence Award this Veterans Day, Salus would like to also recognize the entirety of the University’s Veterans, including University president Michael Mittelman, OD, MPH, FAAO. After graduating from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1980, Dr. Mittelman served over three decades in the U.S. Navy. Originally a Navy optometrist, Dr. Mittelman worked his way up the ranks to achieve the position of deputy surgeon general and later the position of rear admiral. A few of his roles in the Navy included: first Navy aerospace optometrist; the first optometrist to command a major naval hospital (Naval Hospital, Okinawa, Japan); the first and only clinician to lead the Navy Medical Service Corps; the first non-medical doctor to serve as a combatant command surgeon in the United States Pacific Command; and the first non-medical doctor to serve as the command surgeon for the United States Joint Forces. Dr. Mittelman directed the comprehensive United States Military medical response as part of Operation Tomodachi in Japan following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Since joining Salus in 2013 as the institution’s sixth president, Dr. Mittelman has made it his mission to bring a global perspective to the University and has been dedicated to increasing community outreach and interprofessional initiatives.
To all who have served, we thank you.
Gaal and Mittelman
- Robert Atinkson, Technical Services
- Gary Hinchee, manager, Physical Plant
- Maureen Owens, controller, Office of Finance
- John Gaal, FACHE, vice president, Clinical Operations
- David Smith, PA-C, assistant professor, College of Health Sciences
- Michael Mittelman, OD’80, MPH, president
- Charles Wormington, PhD, OD, FAAO, professor emeritus
- Harry Hubbard, Security
- Larry Smith, Physical Plant