Pioneer Navy optometrist, Deputy Surgeon General retires after 33 yearsJuly 25, 2013
A pioneer among the nation’s doctors of optometry, Rear Adm. Michael H. Mittelman, O.D., the Navy’s deputy surgeon general and deputy chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, retired after a military career that spans more than 33 years of service.
A graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Dr. Mittelman began his Navy career as a staff optometrist in 1980 at Naval Hospital Cherry Point, N.C. In June 1989, he became the first Navy optometrist to earn designation as an aerospace optometrist. Dr. Mittelman took command of Naval Hospital Okinawa, Japan, in July 2000, becoming the first optometrist to command a naval hospital.
The rear admiral’s decorations include the Legion of Merit, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, and other awards that total some 20 or more decorations.
Dr. Mittelman has also been recognized repeatedly by his colleagues, honored with the Distinguished Service Award in 2012, twice receiving the AOA Health Care Leadership Award and serving as an AOA Congressional Advocacy Conference keynote speaker in 2007.
“When you look at the scope of his career, both in terms of his meteoric rise through the Navy ranks and the realization of so many firsts for the optometric profession, it really is an amazing accomplishment,” said AOA Immediate Past President Ron Hopping, O.D., MPH. “We salute Dr. Mittelman for his many years of dedicated service to his patients and our country and we thank him for blazing a trail for his profession and highlighting the leading role that optometrists can and should play in the health care team.”
A native of Long Beach, N.Y., Dr. Mittelman is the first and only clinician to serve as the 15th director of the Medical Service Corps. He was the only non-medical doctor to serve as a combatant command surgeon for U.S. Pacific Command and the first at U.S. Joint Forces Command. Dr. Mittelman has held the position as deputy surgeon general and deputy chief since November 2011.
As the U.S. Navy Deputy Surgeon General, Dr. Mittelman helped lead a global health care network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high-quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Naval and Marine personnel worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.
Dr. Mittelman will now assume the position of president of Salus University.
“We are thrilled to have Dr. Mittelman return to Salus University as its next president,” said outgoing Salus President Tom Lewis, O.D., Ph.D. “His many years of experience at the highest levels of Navy medicine has prepared him well for the challenges of education in the health professions.”