Celebrating Our Veterans: Vickie Spillane, Lt.
(Vickie Spillane at age 25, commissioned as a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the U.S. Navy)
In 1984, at age 25, Vickie Spillane, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE, CLT – currently a Lead Dietitian at Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital – was commissioned as a Lieutenant Junior Grade, Navy Dietitian. She served active duty for four years, stationed at Naval Hospital Philadelphia (where she was promoted to Lieutenant) and Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune. From 1988 to 1996, Vickie served as a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserve.
A 1983 graduate of Syracuse University, Vickie worked for New York State as a dietitian for about a year prior to being commissioned.
It then came to Vickie’s attention that the Navy was searching for Master Level Dietitians. Instead of basic training, she attended an officer indoctrination course for other healthcare professionals with direct commissions in Newport, RI. She spent most of her time training in remedial swimming classes.
“They didn’t tell me you needed to know how to swim. I didn’t know how to, and I was afraid I wouldn't pass the test. I think they passed me just because I was constantly trying to learn. I haven’t swum since,” Vickie said.
At Naval Hospital Philadelphia, Vickie worked as part of a small group as a Navy Medical Service Corps officer. She was also responsible for the food service contract. While serving as the head of Food Management, she enjoyed coordinating special events such as the Navy Relief Fund Drive and the Army-Navy Game party.
Vickie also provided nutrition support to ships station in Eastern PA; she conducted infection control inspections, review of menus, health promotion lectures, individual counseling and weight control programs for the crew.
Vickie intended to stay in Philadelphia, but the hospital was scheduled to close in a few years and they were eliminating military positions, so she was made to transfer.
“I think this was one of the hardest stresses to deal with; having this lack of control,” Vickie explained.
At Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina, Vickie developed Mess Management training programs for the crews’ future deployments on ships. She also took flying lessons, and within a year, earned her Commercial Pilot License.
At both stations, Vickie had many collateral duties, including: assisting the Judge Advocate General Officer with investigations, serving as Assistant Physical Fitness and Weight Control Officer and serving as Casualty Assistance Call Officer (CACO) for Navy members killed on active duty.
“Accompanying the chaplain, you would go to the family when they lived nearby,” Vickie said. “Having to tell someone that their son or daughter was killed and then helping to arrange the funeral service and military honors was very sad. However, I think being assigned all these unusual tasks gives you a lot of confidence that you can handle any situation.”
While in the Navy Reserve, living in North Carolina, Vickie accepted temporary active duty orders at Navy hospitals. She also worked as a civilian consultant for food service companies that had accounts with military hospitals. Later, she worked at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Episcopal Long Term Care and with RD Network.
Vickie joined Jefferson Health – New Jersey, then-Kennedy Health, in May 1998.
“This place, out of all the places I’ve worked, closely mimics the camaraderie that the military has. I think that’s the reason I’ve been here so long. The staff is so genuinely supportive; we don’t just provide superb care for patients, we care for each other.”