You may not know that UNT Health Science Center is designated as a Purple Heart University, an honor given to recognize our support for our school’s military members, including veterans and their families.
And you may not know that each year at commencement, some of our students receive their military commissions. It’s a proud moment – and a solemn reminder of the sacrifices to come for our students who serve.
This is the time of year where we remember to give thanks for our blessings. I want to say thank you directly to the active, reserve and veteran service members who make this campus a place of transformation and innovation. UNTHSC should be a place where you feel comfortable, because all of us benefit from the leadership and sense of responsibility you acquired in service to our nation.
At UNTHSC, we’re blessed to have retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Dan Burgard, now running our library, and retired Army Capt. Al Yurvati, DO, a UNTHSC alum and the chair of our Medical Education department. Lydia Negron in our Student Career Center was an Air Force Captain and Toni Allen in Family Medicine was a Postal Clerk 3rd Class in the Navy.
Our Physician Assistant Studies Program has a tradition of service, befitting a profession with deep roots in the armed forces. Retired Air Force Maj. Vic Holmes, retired Air Force Maj. Hank Lemke, retired Army Maj. Jeffrey Mott and retired Army Capt. Thomas Diver teach and train classes of PA students who are among the best in Texas.
Our Police Department has a number of veterans: Alex Pagan, Ruben Llamas and JC Killingsworth (Marine Corps), Shanika Covington (Navy), and John Rosario (Air Force). Marlon Smith is a US Army veteran who, remarkably, is now a reserve in the Air Force. And Lieutenant Mims (Navy) – that’s his first name, not his rank – just transferred from Police to Facilities.
Additionally, there are approximately 70 UNTHSC students across all five schools who have self-identified as active, reserve or veteran members of the military.
Gary and Aundrea Palladino were pharmacy technicians in the Air Force. They met at Joint Base Andrews in Washington, D.C., got married and are now fourth-year students in the College of Pharmacy. Before she was a first-year student in the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, Andi Toufexis was a sergeant in the Army and spent time in Liberia testing blood samples for Ebola.
There are many more active, reserve and veteran service members among our students, staff and faculty – too many to name here. All of us are moved by your dedication and sacrifice, and feel thankful for all you bring to the Health Science Center.
A deep sense of service is ingrained in our culture. There’s a reason the first of our five core values is “Serve others first.” No one embodies this more than our team members with military service. Thank you.
On behalf of the leadership team, I wish the entire UNTHSC team a joyous Thanksgiving.
My best always,
Dr. Michael R. Williams