To commemorate Veterans Day on Nov. 11, we highlight some of the many veterans who are part of the TTUHSC El Paso family. Read on to learn more about their careers and what inspired them to serve their country.
Gilbert Aidinian, M.D., FACS, FSVS
Associate ProfessorDivision Chief of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
Foster School of Medicine
Dr. Aidinian served two combat tours and retired from the U.S. Army after a 20-year career, where he rose to the rank of Colonel. His military journey began after graduation from UCLA with a bachelor of science in biochemistry. He earned his M.D. from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Center in 2001 and completed his general surgery residency and vascular surgery fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He joined the William Beaumont Army Medical Center vascular surgery faculty in El Paso in 2009, and he remained in El Paso until his retirement from the Army in 2021.
During his time at WBAMC, Dr. Aidinian developed protocols for performing complex, state-of-the-art vascular surgery procedures. He served as the chief of vascular surgery at WBAMC for six years, chief of the Department of Surgery for three years, and deputy commander for Surgical Services for one year. Dr. Aidinian received the prestigious Surgeon General’s “A” proficiency designator for vascular surgery in 2016.
“For me, being a veteran means much more than the standard definition,” Dr. Aidinian said. “I am a first-generation immigrant who arrived in the U.S. at age 18. For me, being a veteran means having the honor to selflessly serve and protect a country that took me in and gave me the opportunity for a better life.”
Angela C. Chi, D.M.D.
Professor, Oral Maxillofacial Pathology
Hunt School of Dental Medicine
After earning her D.M.D. from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine in 1998, Dr. Chi served in the U.S. Navy Dental Corps while completing an advanced education in the general dentistry program. She practiced as a general dentist in Yokosuka, Japan, where she cared for sailors aboard the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk.
“It was important to have that experience as a general dentist prior to my training in oral pathology,” Dr. Chi said. “It’s been beneficial to wholly understand more of the clinical aspects of patient care.”
Dr. Chi served in the Navy for eight years, earning the rank of lieutenant commander before her separation. She said the experience gave her the unique opportunity to serve her country while offering career and personal growth.
“The military has taught me valuable lessons in leadership, duty, selfless service, resilience, endurance and adaptation to change,” Dr. Chi said. “I have fond memories of traveling to new places, meeting people from around the world, and learning about new cultures.”
Dr. Chi thanks all those who served and continue to serve our country.
“It’s important for all of us to cherish, defend, and never take for granted the freedoms and core values upon which our country was founded,” Dr. Chi said.
David M. Fallah, D.D.S., FICD, FACS
Associate ProfessorChief and Medical DirectorDivision of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Foster School of Medicine
Dr. Fallah retired as a colonel in 2018 after 25 years of service in the U.S. Army Dental Corps and joined the TTUHSC El Paso family in January 2019. He also has appointment as clinical associate professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.
He began his military career with the U.S. Army Dental Corps after earning his D.D.S. from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry in 1993. While serving in the Army Dental Corps, he practiced five years of comprehensive general dentistry and completed a one-year advanced education in general dentistry. He then completed a surgical residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery at the Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Fort Gordon, Georgia in 2002.
“I’m so proud to have been able to serve this beautiful country for the better half of my life along with my family who also sacrificed their lives equally, if not more, along this journey,” Dr. Fallah said. “As a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States, I’m proud of every moment that I served. Make me 30 years younger, and I will do it again.
“The sacrifices that veterans and their families make is beyond comprehension. Veterans have the sense of duty, service, courage and willpower to fight and die in service to this country and protect our way of life and the freedoms that we have earned.”
Sarah L. Martin, M.D.
Assistant Professor, PsychiatryDivision Director, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship ProgramMedical Director, Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium at TTUHSC El Paso
Foster School of Medicine
Dr. Martin reflected on her military experience, saying “I have been fortunate to have enjoyed a varied and challenging career.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree at U.C. Santa Cruz and serving two years in the Peace Corps, Dr. Martin was awarded a U.S. Army Health Professions Scholarship to attend the Tulane School of Medicine. Upon graduation, she was commissioned as a captain and completed her residency and a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Dr. Martin then served four years as the chief of behavioral health at Fort Knox, during which time she deployed to Iraq to work at the detainee facility in Camp Bucca. Her last duty station in the Army was at Fort Bliss. After completing her military service, she remained at Fort Bliss for two more years, serving as the chief of the Child and Family Behavioral Health Service. She joined TTUHSC El Paso in 2015.
“My time in the United States Army Medical Corps was one of the most important experiences of my life,” Dr. Martin said. “It was an honor to take care of our nation’s soldiers and their children, and I learned so much about leadership, health care systems, and the price of war. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”