Capt. Eric Hoffman traveled to Virginia to tour the NMLPDC’s Naval Ophthalmology Support Training Activity (NOSTRA) and Tri-Service Opticians School (TOPS). Here is his story.

Not too long ago I had the incredible opportunity to learn about two operations-focused NMLPDC programs that prepare highly trained personnel to meet the very unique needs of warfighters, but many of whom do not know maybe not much.

First stop, Portsmouth, Virginia.

Located on the banks of the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth, Virginia is the Navy’s oldest operating hospital, NMC Portsmouth, ‘The First and Finest’. Not far from the original hospital, housed in the former Naval School of Health Sciences (NSHS) building, is a small office tucked into the corner. It is the home of Navy Medicine’s “C” Hemodialysis School, responsible for training a small group of Corpsmen to become experts in artificially filtering the blood of impurities when the kidneys are not working properly. This salvage capability is not only maintained to meet the needs ashore of NMC San Diego, NMC Portsmouth and WRNMMC Bethesda, but more importantly, operationally aboard USNS COMFORT and USNS MERCY.
Organizationally, the “C” School of Hemodialysis aligns with our Academic Programs Branch, headed by Mr. Glenn Smith and is one of three “C” Schools in the NMLPDC, the other two being the three-service school of opticians (TOPS) and Oral Maxillofacial. School of Laboratory Technicians. For those unfamiliar with the Navy Corpsmen training pipeline, a “C” school provides advanced enlisted technical training in a particular skill. And that is exactly what is happening here.
The enormous responsibility for training, preparing and mentoring our hemodialysis technicians rests with Mr. Glenn Herbert. Glenn is a retired Navy, who enjoyed an extremely rewarding career as a Corpsman, first trained as a Surgical Technician and later as a Hemodialysis/Apheresis Technician.
If you’re wondering, apheresis is the process of separating plasma and cells from blood and reintroducing the cells to treat a variety of medical conditions and is no longer part of technician training.
Glenn not only excelled as a technician, but was also a very effective instructor. After retiring, he transitioned to his current role as the sole Naval Medicine Instructor for our Hemodialysis Technicians.
Spending a few minutes talking with Glenn about the program and its students, it was clear how passionate and very proud he is to prepare our sailors for their important mission. There is no doubt that his students value not only his experience and knowledge, but also his willingness to mentor, developing the seafarer, the technician and the individual, laying the foundation for personal and professional success. After an hour of conversation, it was clear to me that Glenn exemplifies our culture of excellence and is truly moving at the speed of relevance, continually challenging himself and his students to be the best, not just today. today, but every day. What a great and motivating start to the journey.

Next stop, Yorktown, Virginia.

If you are an American history buff or are able to rid yourself of the cobwebs of age and remember your elementary school history, you are very familiar with the Battle of Yorktown, where American settlers , with a little help from the French, were able to defeat the British army and, as they say, the rest is history. Yorktown is also the home of Naval Weapons Station, Yorktown, where the Naval Ophthalmic Support Training Activity (NOSTRA) and Tri-Service Optician School (TOPS) are co-located.
For perspective, NOSTRA is organizationally aligned under Naval Medical Logistics Command, which falls under Naval Medical Forces Atlantic. TOPS is aligned under NMLPDC which falls under the Naval Medical Forces Support Command. NOSTRA is responsible for manufacturing prescription eyewear for uniformed and other services within the federal government, including the executive branch. TOPS is responsible for providing formal optical training to specialist students in the Army Optics Laboratory (MOS 68H) and Navy Hospital (NEC L19A) with quality training through a 24-week program on the subjects of ophthalmic distribution, ophthalmic manufacturing and clinical optics. After completing the required program, graduates are immediately able to function as an independent optician in any military environment.
CDR DeAngelis, principal and dean of the Tri-service Optician School (TOPS), gave me a tour of his school and introduced me to his crew of very talented and experienced Army and Navy instructors. The enthusiasm and pride in their core mission was evident.
Even though I wore glasses for many years, I never really thought about the process starting with the eye exam and ending with a pair or two of prescription glasses. Pun intended, my “eyes were truly wide open” when CDR DeAngelis described the detailed and intensive didactic and clinical training our young Sailors and Soldiers receive to prepare them to provide essential support to combatant needs to ensure and to preserve “the sight to fight”. And even though much of the manufacturing process today is automated, students must learn and master topics in physics, math, anatomy, and clinical processes to prepare them for all eventualities, ensuring that fighters.
After a tour of TOPS and NOSTRA, I had the honor of being part of the class of 21020 graduation and would like to share my feedback with the students.
“Thank you SSG Spruill. To our guests and family members, thank you for being here this morning to celebrate the Class of 21020.
CDR DeAngelis and the staff of TOPS, thank you for allowing me to be here today and for what you do every day to prepare our students for their mission. Your hard work, dedication and commitment to their success, through instruction and mentorship, ensures that our clients consistently receive exceptional support, the support they need to succeed.
Moving on to Class 21020. On behalf of CAPT Myaing, Commanding Officer, Chief Navy Medical Officer and Professional Development Command, it is my honor to congratulate you on your graduation, the culmination exceptional commitment and a focus on achieving excellence. Your performance throughout this challenging course was outstanding, achieving an academic average of nearly 93%. Although normally an incredible achievement, it is even more impressive knowing that your Dean, CDR DeAngelis, is committed to challenging you with ever more demanding examinations. There is no doubt that you were up to the task, but you made the journey even more difficult for your successors.
While many view graduation as the end of a successful college career, it also marks the start of a new chapter in your professional career. Starting tomorrow, you will travel everywhere from Korea and Germany to Texas, Colorado, Washington State and here in Virginia, supporting our customers, providing world-class care, ensuring their preparedness and the success of their mission. You are truly a member of a small community of three select services whose skills and knowledge, honed here at TOPS, will make the difference between just good enough and achieving operational excellence.
In conclusion and in recognition of our tri-service mission and in recognition of our “one team, one fight” goal, well done Zulu, Hoorah, Hooah, congratulations and whatever the Air Force says for a job well done! »
Obviously, the small TOPS Joint Service personnel will include: SFC Jason Nichols, HMC Jonathan Martinez, HMC Kirk Glenn, HM1 Kristina Bennett, HM1 Joshua Garnes, HM1 Erica Tanner, SSG Juanpaulo PonceDeLeon, SSG James Spruill, HM2 Adalberto Rosario, M Sheldon O’Guinn and Drill Sergeants, SFC Lucas White and SSG Paola Vargas-Fajardo are committed to excellence. Bravo Zulu for a job well done.
Back at Bethesda, I couldn’t help but feel a tremendous sense of pride, arching my back and puffing out my chest a little more than before, knowing the critical impact we, the entire NMLPDC team , have on the success of our customers, the fighter. Without you and your daily dedication to excellence, those we support would certainly not be ready to accomplish their mission. My thanks to “C” School of Hemodialysis and TOPS for being amazing hosts and for all they do, committed to a culture of excellence.

Capt. Eric R. Hoffman, MSC, USN is the executive officer of the Naval Medical Leader and Professional Development Command.







Date taken: 30.03.2022
Date posted: 04.10.2022 18:37
Story ID: 418208
Location: PORTSMOUTH, Virginia, USA





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