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Honoring Veterans

"A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers" - President John F. Kennedy

We honor veterans including patients and staff members who are a part of the Arizona Eye Institute family.  The following incredible and true stories are veterans we know and appreciate every day. I welcome you to share your story or the story of a family member. Just contact us here. - Emilio M. Justo, M.D., Medical Director.


David Toliver, Sr., understands the importance of paying tribute to a community whose live revolves around service and sacrifice. Toliver has gone to the Arizona House of Representatives to promote a special day to honor a unique group of veterans who trained him in his youth - in 1958 when he joined the Air Force: The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American military pilots. "I have no regrets, it helped shape me as a man, they taught me how to be an American patriot," he says of his service. "To find victory in spite of adversity. It was real for people who served. Some 58,000 of my compatriots never came home..”– Air Force Captain David Toliver Sr., who shares his experiences working with the historic Tuskegee Airmen, who now work to promote the science profession among American youth. “This is not about military history. It’s not about black history. It’s American history. We must respect our history. And as veterans, we continue to serve our great community. Today my war is to convince our youth today that being smart is okay. If people call you names - like braniac - don't let that hold you back. Being smart is what is cool."


Carl Larsen didn't wait for the draft. A week before the letter arrived in the mail, he enlisted in the Army. "I knew what I wanted to do." It was 1959 and the height of the Cold War, and Space War, and Larsen held an important role overseeing nuclear missiles in Germany. At one point he was on post to help evacuate American families in case an enemy's weapons were headed that way. "Fortunately, that never happened. But I was responsible for getting everyone to safety." He attended radar computer school at the age of 21. "Nuclear was spreading all over U.S. and Europe." His father and uncles were members of the U.S. Coast Guard, contributing to his patriotic spirit. "I appreciate and understand all of the sacrifices people have made." After his service, Larsen completed a Bachelor Degree in Accounting and began serving the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he continues to serve the community's interests part time. - Carl Larsen, U.S. Army/FBI


Sarah Ellano never knew life outside of U.S. Armed Forces. Born on a base in Germany, she spent her youth traveling around the world. As an adult, she immediately enlisted in the Air Force at high school graduation to continue the family tradition. “Sacrifices are many and daily when you grow up in a military family. My life was different from the day I was born. You have to stop and take a moment to realize what other people have sacrificed to have every little thing you have. Even just lifelong friends - I don't have that. I can't even take my son to see schools were I grew up, what street I grew up on." But she says the most important thing to her was that every time her father was sent overseas, and she and her brother watched eagerly at the door for his return - a return many families never see - she is grateful that he always opened the door and came home. "I consider myself fortunate. There are so many people who lost a limb, or someone close to them - that is a true veteran. Please consider what these people are actually giving up for their day to day activities for what our country just take for granted, not realizing things could be a lot different. Lots of people fight hard for people to have everything that they have.”—Sarah Ellano, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman


"Sadly, just like most Americans, I don’t stop and seriously think about the significance of Veterans Day, nor do I think about me, a veteran, being honored on this special day set aside for those of us who signed up to serve our country.  Conversely, when I see veterans singled out on Veterans’ Day, my heart is touched, and I stand in awe. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be allowed to be called a veteran of our US Armed Forces. My grandfather served and retired from the Army Air Corps; my father served and retired from the Air Force; my current husband served and retired from the US Marine Corps, and my children’s father served and retired from the US Army. I knew from a very young age, about six years of age that I wanted to be a part of this group of people.  I can’t tell you why, I just knew.  There is but one fraternity that is larger or more honorable to be a part of than the fraternity named “Veteran”.  We veterans signed an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, to defend the freedoms held so dearly by our fellow citizens and when the call came to give our life for our country." -Thyra L. Strapac, Captain, USNR-R


"Veterans day is a day to reflect on those that have and were willing to service in the armforces to protect the freedoms to all of enjoy. To those that are willing to put their lives on the line and those that have given their lives for all of us in the United States." Sean P Moriarty, United States Marine Corps.

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