Doctor, lifelong Soldier awarded lifetime achievement award
February 15, 2011
- Col. Glenesk will receive the Orion Award Mar. 2.
- He is the 2011 recipient of the Armed Forces Optometric Society award, which is the highest honor the society can bestow on a member.
- Glenesk has been in the Army since 1974, serving as an enlisted member of the World Class Athlete Program before becoming an Optometrist.
- Glenesk is the only recipient this year and joins an elite group of 25 other professionals who have received the award since 1974.
When Neil Glenesk enlisted in the Army in 1974 it was to pursue his passion as a World Class Athlete. Little did he know, more than 30 years later, he'd be world-class in a whole new category.
Now an Army colonel, Glenesk is the 2011 recipient of the Armed Forces Optometric Society Orion award, which is the highest honor the AFOS can bestow on an AFOS member. On March 2, Glenesk will receive the award at the AFOS's Annual Meeting during the SECO International Conference for optometrists in Atlanta. The AFOS executive council votes on nominations for the award and can have a maximum of three recipients per year. Glenesk is the only recipient this year and joins an elite group of 25 other professionals who have received the award since 1974.
The same year the Orion Award was first awarded, Glenesk participated in the modern pentathlon and won medals around the world. Reaching the pinnacle of athletics was one of many opportunities the Army would give him over his 30-plus year career.
"I never planned to be in the Army, but life is what happens when you are busy making plans," said Glenesk.
Glenesk decided to pursue optometry because of the lifestyle the field offered and graduated from the University of California Berkley's Optometry School as a doctor of optometry in 1984. Following graduation he commissioned in the Army. He has worked as a staff optometrist and chief of optometry at many levels. As the chief of Army Optometry, Glenesk served in the Office of the Army Surgeon General. While there he worked on a number of groundbreaking projects. He coordinated with Col. (Dr.) Robert Mazzoli on the Vision Center of Excellence, a concept directed by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. The VCE is an eight-year initiative approved for $56 million in funding. In addition Glenesk worked to create the G-Eyes program, which is a central database that servicemembers who are deployed can access remotely and order glasses or optical inserts to be delivered to them. Glenesk looks back fondly on his experiences as the consultant.
"It was just an honor. It was hard work, very long hours, but I didn't mind it when it's this important and you are helping so many people," said Glenesk.
Glenesk was nominated for the award by Col. Terry Lantz, chief of Army Optometry. Lantz replaced Glenesk this summer. Glenesk is now the chief of Optometry Services at Madigan Healthcare System.
"His accomplishments are incredible," said Lantz. "He serves as a mentor for all optometrists to emulate. I look forward to presenting his award and thanking him for his dedication and hard work. The profession has benefitted from his exceptional achievements."
While serving as the Chief of Army Optometry, Glenesk was instrumental in the creation of the Vision Center of Excellence which advocates for research and treatment for improved vision care and restorative innovations for service members He was also involved in the Military Combat Eye Protection Program and G-Eyes, a remote spectacle ordering system.
"It's nice to get the award, but the actual doing it, the actual day-to-day job was worth more," said Glenesk.