Caring for Animals; Serving Our Country

Veterinarian surgical technician puts skills to use in military and medical product research innovations
Trisha Purvis (left), a veterinary surgical technician at the Global Center for Medical Innovation, recently re-enlisted in the United States Army Reserve. Ken Zielmanski, director of quality assurance for GCMI’s T3 Labs and a retired Army lieutenant colonel, performed the re-enlistment ceremony. (Photo: Joya Chapman)

Trisha Purvis (left), a veterinary surgical technician at the Global Center for Medical Innovation, recently re-enlisted in the United States Army Reserve. Ken Zielmanski, director of quality assurance for GCMI’s T3 Labs and a retired Army lieutenant colonel, performed the re-enlistment ceremony. (Photo: Joya Chapman)

The Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI), an affiliate of Georgia Tech, hosted a special ceremony early in July in which Trisha Purvis, a veterinary surgical technician, re-enlisted in the United States Army Reserve. Making the event more personal and unusual, Purvis’s coworker, Ken Zielmanski, director of quality assurance for GCMI’s T3 Labs and a retired Army lieutenant colonel, performed the re-enlistment ceremony.

Purvis has worked at GCMI off and on since 2006. GCMI accelerates the development, testing, training, and commercialization of innovative medical products to improve quality-based outcomes and delivery of healthcare for patients.

“My re-enlistment with Ken was so special because it was not only a retired officer who swore me in, he is a friend and mentor,” Purvis said, explaining she first enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2007. This re-enlistment will take her into retirement.

Zielmanski was delighted to be asked to perform the ceremony. “She could go into any enlistment office and get that done,” he said. “I felt honored and privileged that she asked me.”

Purvis’s work for the Army is similar in scope to her duties at GCMI. “My MOS — military occupational specialty — in the Army is a 68T or animal care specialist,” she said. “It’s the equivalent of a veterinary technician on the civilian side. The main mission as a 68T in the Army is caring for the military working dogs.” 

Her specialty is a rare one as the Army is the only branch of the military that has veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Purvis will also work with ceremonial animals, including horses, and participate in missions overseas to help manage animal herds. 

“I know how she performs here as a vet tech,” Zielmanski said, “and she’s a very, very good vet tech. I think very highly of her. The only way you make the service good is to have good people in it. And she’s one of the best people that we have. I know she’s a benefit to the service.”

Her success both in the Army Reserve and at GCMI, is a testament to her character, said Sherry N. Farrugia, GCMI CEO.

“Trisha is held in high regard by her teammates, and embodies the Army’s values in everything she does,” Farrugia said. “She always fulfills her obligations, has respect for others, and does everything with honor, integrity, and courage.”

Army Staff Sgt. Trisha Purvis' colleagues at the Global Center for Medical Innovation, celebrate her reenlistment with a celebratory cake. (Photo: Joya Chapman)
Army Staff Sgt. Trisha Purvis' colleagues at the Global Center for Medical Innovation, celebrate her reenlistment with a celebratory cake. (Photo: Joya Chapman)