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SUNY Optometry Recognizes Partnership with Veterans Affairs Hospitals and Health Centers

College offers externship and residency program.

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(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK – With a commitment to providing access as well as serving a growing and diverse population, SUNY College of Optometry commemorates Veterans Day by honoring its longstanding partnerships with 17 Veterans Affairs (VA) health care centers and military hospitals across the United States. Through the College’s externship and residency program, students and residents participate in programs that give them first-hand exposure to the distinctive needs of both retired and active military personnel.

These programs bring critical eye and vision care services to the community while creating the exposure and understanding of the unique needs of the U.S. military that are critical to future innovations and policies. Services include comprehensive eye exams, diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases, rehabilitation for traumatic brain injury (TBI), and low vision rehabilitation. Currently, SUNY Optometry alumni serve as externship and residency site supervisors at nine of the 17 affiliated VA hospitals and health centers.

“As health care providers, understanding the needs of the populations we serve is critical to providing the best care possible. Eye and vision related services are essential for retired and active members of our military who often are, or were, required to function in extreme circumstances, and heavily relied on their vision to achieve their missions,” said SUNY Optometry President David Heath, OD, EdM.

SUNY College of Optometry’s class of 2023 student and U.S. Navy Lieutenant, Michelle Kim said: “When I was applying to college, I knew that I wanted to become a doctor, but I felt like I didn’t understand what was going on in the world. Unexpectedly, I felt a growing sense of urgency to serve and take an active role in securing the freedoms the government promises through the military, so I decided to apply to the ROTC program. Having a deployment under my belt opened my eyes to the lack of availability of eye care, not just for people in underserved areas, but also for our deployed service members. They have different visual demands than most civilians; not having color blindness is pivotal for driving the ship at night, contact lenses and glasses are not readily available in the middle of the ocean, and lack of clear vision has potentially lethal ramifications in regards to shooting weapons, driving the ship, spotting friendly or enemy vessels, and even scanning the radars and screens.”

Below is a full list of SUNY College of Optometry’s VA- and military-affiliated residency and externship rotation sites (starred locations feature programs with SUNY Optometry alumni):

  • Albany Stratton VA Medical Center*
  • Baltimore VA Medical Center
  • Brooklyn VA Medical Center*
  • Buffalo VA Medical Center*
  • Keller Army Community Hospital
  • Lyons VA Medical Center
  • Newington VA Clinic*
  • Northport VA Medical Center*
  • Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center
  • St. Albans VA Medical Center
  • St. Cloud VA Health Care System
  • Syracuse VA Medical Center*
  • VA Boston Healthcare System
  • VA Hudson Valley Health Care System*
  • Walter Reed National Military Medical Center*
  • West Haven VA Medical Center*
  • Wilmington VA Medical Center

Veterans, U.S. military personnel, and their families are invited to join us for a free eye screening on November 14 from 2:30 – 4:30 pm at the University Eye Center. Call (888) 601-8811 to schedule.

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