This story originally appeared in our November 2009 issue.
Liana Bullock OD, is a civilian in a military setting. But it’s not an unfamiliar one. Dr. Bullock served three years of active duty in the Army until 2005. In 2008, she became staff optometrist for the U.S. Army at Ft. Bliss in Texas. It’s a job she loves. “I’m extremely grateful to the soldiers serving our country,” she says. “It’s an honor to me to provide quality eye care to them.”
Her husband, Jason Bullock, is an active duty Army dentist. The couple enjoys the perks of working in the health care industry. “We are able to carpool to work and spend that extra quality time together,” she says. That’s particularly special for spouses of military personnel, who often have to muscle through long deployments as the solo parent. Her husband was deployed for six months to Iraq in August 2008. “I was essentially a single, working mom,” Dr. Bullock says. “My daughter was six months old, and I had to care for her, the house and the car. I did it all. People don’t often realize the sacrifices and the effect on the family when spouses are deployed.”
But there is a benefit in the predictable schedule. Dr. Bullock works business hours, Monday through Friday, and there’s no weekend call. She thinks back to the juggle she faced working in private practice. Working late nights or weekends didn’t fit into the family time she wished to have.
“Now in a military setting, I am able to show patriotism by working for the soldiers, but I can also enjoy the schedule, too.”
In fact, she enjoys the setting, noting it is comparable to any private practice. Her office is equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation, and she fits soft and GP contact lenses, treats red eyes and post-op refractive surgery patients and is involved in disease management. “If a patient walks in with an eye trauma, I can send the patient to the neurologist for an MRI, if needed, and he or she comes back to me for a follow-up in terms of diagnosis and treatment,” she says. There’s no worry that another practitioner is going to keep that patient; these military medical providers all work on the same team.