Cooper University Healthcare celebrates Military Employee of the Year

CAMDEN, N.J. (WPVI) -- Cooper University Healthcare awarded its first-ever Military Employee of the Year award Tuesday.

The recipient, John Chovanes, is a Lieutenant Colonel and military surgeon in the United States Army Reserve Medical Corps.

This weekend he is heading to the Middle East for his fifth deployment.

"You do your best here in Camden, New Jersey or in the Middle East, wherever you are taking care of someone," he said.

Before he became a doctor and later enlisted, he was an EMT, nurse, flight paramedic and one of the first responders to the World Trade Center on 9/11.

He's received multiple awards and commendations.

"His training with the military lets him be a better trauma surgeon, not only for the skills he has but as a leader," said President of Cooper University Healthcare Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli.

Cooper continues to add programs specifically aimed to help train military doctors and to treat veterans. Chovanes has been an integral part of that. Some of those programs were highlighted today with the help of other military leaders in medicine.

Combat injuries have helped prepare Chovanes for Cooper's trauma bay

"We do see similarities, not just from violence but also from life, from motor vehicle collisions to industrial accidents ... falls..." he said.

Both his Cooper and Military families wanted this award to also serve as a send-off for his deployment.

"He has boundless energy, he's always in a good mood," said Mazzarelli. "He determines the weather in a lot of people's world when he walks into the room."

Chovanes said that he loves his military family because they take care of one another.

"I like that, that's what I believe in," he said. "That's why I love the Army -- you help one another out and that's kind of what we should be doing for everybody, taking care of one another."

Officials at Cooper said they plan to make this an annual award, in part because they have so many staff members that are veterans and active military.

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