Second-year UCF medical student Katherine Mills served six years in the U.S. Air Force working as a hospital administrator before deciding to pursue medicine. Richard Peppler, the college’s associate dean, served 35 years in the Army Reserve including active duty during Vietnam and Desert Storm, while continuing his career in medical education.

They are among the 50 students, faculty and staff members at the UCF College of Medicine who are veterans and will be recognized along with other veterans in the community during a week of Veteran’s Day events beginning Tuesday, Nov. 10.

From thank you cards to a symposium dedicated to Veteran’s Healthcare, the college is recognizing the importance of these special individuals and the challenges many veterans face in America. Among the events:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2:30 p.m.: Medical students who are veterans will deliver a thank you card signed by COM faculty, staff and students to the VA hospital in Medical City.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 10, 8:30 a.m. – 50 flags (one for every student, faculty, and staff veteran at the COM will be put on the Tavistock Green. A similar event occurred on the main UCF campus last week.
  • Thursday, Nov. 12, 11 a.m. to noon — Symposium on Veteran’s Healthcare Needs, College of Medicine Lewis Auditorium.  Speakers include former Florida Surgeon General Dr. Frank Farmer, who served in the medical corps of the U.S. Army, Air Force and Florida National Guard and served in Vietnam as a captain in the Army before attending medical school.
  • Students will also wear their military uniforms to school on Thursday, Nov. 12 while the rest of the students, staff and faculty will be wearing red, white and blue to show their support.
  • Mills, a Titusville native, who leads the military interest group at the college, led the effort to bring attention to veterans.

    “People who have served our country selflessly don’t ask for much except to be treated for the conditions they acquired during their service,” she said. “They served an honorable, noble role. Caring for them is what I hang my hat on.”

    The goal of the COM military interest group is to raise awareness of the unique health needs of veterans and to connect students with the veterans “who are walking among you,” including fellow M.D. candidates.

    The 2019 class has four veterans and last year eight graduated and went onto residencies in private and military based hospitals around the nation.

    One of the unique aspects of the COM’s curriculum is that every medical student spends time during their training caring for veterans either in Orlando or at Bay Pines VA Hospital in St. Petersburg.