Hopping inaugural recipient of AFOS honorary membership
(AFOS President Alyon Wasik, O.D., at left, and AFOS Immediate Past President Mike Sunman, O.D., at right, present AOA Immediate Past President Ron Hopping, O.D., MPH, with honorary membership in AFOS.)
For the first time in the history of the Armed Forces Optometric Society (AFOS), the group bestowed honorary membership on a fellow optometrist. AOA Immediate Past President Ronald Hopping, O.D., MPH, proudly accepted this extraordinary award from Navy Cmdr. Mike Sunman, O.D., AFOS immediate past president, Oct. 22 at the AFOS luncheon held at the Academy of Optometry annual meeting.
"Dr. Ronald L. Hopping has served AFOS, its members, and federal service optometry in an exemplary manner and is exactly the type of leader and mentor we all need on our team," Dr. Sunman said. "Dr. Hopping was AFOS's AOA liaison during his year as president-elect of the AOA and much of that was during my tenure as president here. This was a time of much change, transition and challenge in AFOS, and we had no better advocate than Dr. Hopping."
"One of the many changes we made in the membership category last year was to the Honorary Membership category," Dr. Sunman noted. "In my 12 years with the AFOS committee structure, and through the executive council and officer ranks, I could not recall ever utilizing this category."
Dr. Sunman said it was a rather easy decision to determine who would be the first honoree.
"One name came to everyone's mind immediately, and his name had unanimous officer confirmation just as quickly," he said. "He always had time to talk through the tough decisions, both in person and on the phone."
"Through his leadership as president of the AOA, the bonds of a solid partnership were established with AFOS," said Dr. Sunman. "That new partnership has inspired more ODs to serve our profession at every level and thanks to his efforts, AFOS knows it's welcome to participate and contribute to the future of optometry."
AFOS Executive Directors Dr. Anthony and Gina Borgognoni reiterated the significance of the award and Dr. Hopping's contributions.
"Dr. Hopping has been an inspiring force for the Armed Forces Optometric Society," they wrote in a joint statement. "Because of his leadership, we have truly excelled and have experienced the AFOS rallying charge: United We Achieve More."
Dr. Hopping aided in the advancement of federal-service optometry in numerous ways.
- Dr. Hopping personally initiated a change in the AOA bylaws to give AFOS full parity with all state affiliates after learning AFOS was restricted from full affiliate participation. This change was ratified at the June 2012 AOA House of Delegates along with two other amendments that specifically benefited federal-service ODs.
- Dr. Hopping skillfully navigated the complex bureaucracy of the Vision Center of Excellence (VCE). He continues to fight toward AFOS's ultimate goal of having a federal optometrist lead the VCE.
- During his AOA presidency, Dr. Hopping facilitated a change in the formal definition of optometry that originated with AFOS's Federal Relations Committee representative. The change inserted the word "independent" in front of "optometrist" and aided in alignment with the Veterans Affair's Credentialing and Privileging Handbook as well as helping to ensure the independence of the practice of optometry.
"Much of what we do as AOA board members often goes unnoticed, so I am very happy to see the acknowledgement of Dr. Hopping's efforts over the past few years working closely with the Armed Forces Optometric Society," said Mitchell Munson, O.D., current AOA president.
Dr. Hopping was first elected to the AOA board in 2005 and served as president from 2012-2013. He is a past president of the Texas Optometric Association. Dr. Hopping is recognized as a Distinguished Practitioner by the National Academies of Practice in Optometry and was elected to its executive committee. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and is also a Diplomate in Cornea and Contact Lenses.