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James Dienst, OD, '89, promoted to Brigadier General

Posted On: 10/10/2016


Optometrists have served in the U.S. Armed Forces since World War II.  Dienst said that from the historical perspective of becoming the first optometrist to achieve general officer rank in the Air Force, “is a humbling thing” which he hopes will “help inspire our younger docs in the future.”

One of the U.S. Air Force’s most accomplished leaders in military healthcare, Dienst was a commander at the squadron and group levels and a division chief in a Department of Defense Joint Task Force.  He was also selected to serve as the Command Surgeon at Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command.

Dienst is currently the Director of Education and Training for the Defense Health Agency in the Washington, DC, area.  In addition, he serves as Chief of the Biomedical Sciences Corps, where he oversees the professional development and utilization of more than 2,400 Air Force officers in 18 healthcare specialties, including optometry.

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Dienst graduated from the University of Houston College of Optometry in 1989 and completed a hospital-based residency through the Pennsylvania State University College of Optometry in 1999.   He is a longtime member of the Armed Forces Optometric Society and a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.