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Eyes on the Prize: A Glimpse into the World of Military Medicine with RADM(Ret) Michael Mittelman OD

Ensuring the visual readiness of service members is a key aspect of military readiness. Today, we delve into the fascinating world of Military Medicine through the lens of retired Navy Rear Admiral Michael Mittelman, a seasoned optometrist with a wealth of experience and anecdotes that reveal the invaluable role of optometry in the military.


RADM Mittelman is a man of commendable vision, both figuratively and literally. Serving in several leadership roles, he has navigated through the trials and triumphs of directing the Navy Medical Service Corps and commanding the US Naval Hospital in Okinawa. He shared his insights on the impressive logistics of operating hospital ships, emphasizing their critical role in combat readiness and humanitarian missions.



But the conversation extended beyond Military Medicine. RADM Mittelman took us into the realm of global health engagements, revealing how Military Medicine fosters alliances and collaborations worldwide. His insights painted a vivid picture of how medicine paves pathways to partnerships where military ties may not exist. He also highlighted the resilience needed in the face of considerable challenges, like the pressures to downsize and the establishment of the Defense Health Agency.


RADM Mittelman's military journey has been full of eye-opening experiences. From deployments with surgical teams to treating aging aviators, he has witnessed how optometrists play a crucial role in ensuring that the forces are visually ready for any theater. He shared the story of being part of US efforts to assist Japan following major natural disasters, emphasizing the importance of teamwork and clear communication during such crises.


In the realm of military vision care and readiness, he highlighted how optometrists often deploy with surgical teams to provide eye care. He explained the evaluation process for aviators who experience age-related degradation of their vision, noting that corrective measures can be taken to keep them active.


During his tenure as the Navy Medical Service Corps Director, RADM Mittelman focused on rebuilding the corps and protecting and resourcing the hospital ships. He underscored the importance of these floating lifelines in combat readiness and humanitarian assistance missions.



As the Deputy Surgeon General of the Navy in 2011, RADM Mittelman faced significant challenges, including the pressure to downsize and the establishment of the Defense Health Agency. Despite these obstacles, he emphasized the importance of leveraging global health engagements to foster relationships and collaborations with allies and potential allies.


RADM Mittelman's journey offers a unique glimpse into the world of Military Medicine, illuminating the invaluable role of optometrists in the military. His insights serve as a testament to the resilience, teamwork, and leadership required in this field, offering an eye-opening perspective on the crucial role of vision in military readiness. His story is a stark reminder that in the military, every role, no matter how specialized, plays a vital part in maintaining the health and readiness of our service members.


The interview featuring RADM(Ret) Mittelman is available on all major podcast platforms. Here are some popular links that will bring you directly to the episode:


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