American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Consumers

Military Plastic Surgeons Forum

The Military Plastic Surgeons Forum (MPSF) supports a community of providers who strive to advance the field of reconstructive plastic surgery as it applies to military populations through education, advocacy and military-civilian partnership.

Serving as a central hub, the MPSF allows members to network and engage on issues unique to military plastic surgeons and their patient populations.

All members, candidates, residents, associates and affiliate members who are interested in plastic surgery in a military setting are encouraged to join, regardless of whether they have served in the military. For more information, please contact Jennifer Calabrese at

Alternatively, please feel free to reach out directly to MPSF Chair COL (Dr.) Kerry Latham at

Online Application

Surgeon Spotlight

CAPT (Dr.) Kenneth J. Ortiz

Dr. Kenneth J. Ortiz, a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon with over 19 years of experience, serves in the U.S. Navy as Captain (CAPT) in the Medical Corps (MC). Currently stationed in Portsmouth, Virginia, he is affiliated with multiple hospitals including Naval Medical Readiness and Training Command Portsmouth (NMRTC Portsmouth) and Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

His distinguished military career spans more than 30 years. As an attending surgeon in the department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at NMRTC Portsmouth, Dr. Ortiz has provided extensive care to active-duty military personnel and Department of Defense (DoD) beneficiaries. His deployments include Afghanistan, Kuwait, Okinawa, Vietnam and various countries throughout South and Central America, where he has delivered surgical care in both humanitarian missions and theaters of combat.

Born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico, Dr. Ortiz gained fluency in Spanish. Following his high school graduation in Puerto Rico, he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a combat medic. After a three-year active-duty tour, he transitioned to the Army Reserves and pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in biology at the State University of New York (SUNY) Albany. Dr. Ortiz's military service continued as he received a Health Professions Scholarship (HPSP) from the U.S. Navy to attend Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey for his medical degree. He then completed his General Surgery residency at the National Naval Medical Center (now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) in Bethesda, Md.

Further specializing in his field, Dr. Ortiz was awarded a Full-Time Outpatient Service (FTOS) training position in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn. Board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, he is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

Leadership roles include Department Head of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at NMRTC Portsmouth, Director of the Wound Care Center at NMRTC Portsmouth, Associate Director of Surgical Services at NMRTC Portsmouth, Director of Surgical Services at USNS COMFORT, U.S. Navy Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Specialty Leader and Regimental Surgeon 4th Marines III MARDIV Okinawa, Japan.

Dr. Ortiz lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and three children. He enjoys traveling and spending time with his family. He is actively engaged in the general medical education of future surgeons at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth and Eastern Virginia Medical School Integrated Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Residency program, providing didactic classes and hands-on training.


What was your most memorable assignment and why?

Dr. Ortiz: My most memorable assignment was serving with the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) in Hawaii. We had the critical mission of returning to Vietnam to locate and recover the remains of an aviator who went down during the Vietnam War. It was a tremendous honor to be part of a team that included anthropologists, archaeologists and other specialists dedicated to respectfully searching for and returning one of our fallen comrades. I felt incredibly privileged to be a member of such a dedicated team.

What was the most significant additional duty you held during your military service?

Dr. Ortiz: Leading a large group of dedicated medical professionals as Director of Surgical Services on the USNS Comfort during a humanitarian mission to South America stands out as the most important additional duty I had. We provided state-of-the-art medical and surgical care to large populations in need. Additionally, we conducted numerous academic medical and surgical training sessions for our partner nations.

What do you find most rewarding about being a military plastic surgeon?

Dr. Ortiz: The most rewarding aspect of being a military plastic surgeon is the ability to continue using the full range of skills I acquired during my training at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. (General Surgery) and Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. (Plastic Surgery). This includes a variety of procedures, from complex craniofacial surgery to advanced hand and breast reconstruction. Above all, it has been a privilege to provide care to our courageous service members and their families.

What was the single most influential factor in your decision to become a military plastic surgeon?

Dr. Ortiz: The decision to become a military plastic surgeon was an easy one. I have always harbored a strong desire to serve in the military. In fact, I enlisted right out of high school at the age of 18. After becoming a combat medic, it felt like a natural progression to pursue further training and professional development, ultimately leading me to become a plastic and reconstructive surgeon.

Where was the best vacation you've ever taken?

Dr. Ortiz:One of the most memorable vacations I've ever had was a trip to the Tuscany region of Italy with my wife. We stayed in a beautiful villa overlooking vineyards and olive groves, where we enjoyed incredible wine and the warm hospitality of the people in that region.

What was the last book you read?

Dr. Ortiz:The last book I read was "The Demon of Unrest" by Erik Larson. I really enjoy his work. He has a talent for writing about historical events in a captivating way that transports the reader back to that specific moment in time.

If you weren't a plastic surgeon, what profession would you have chosen?

Dr. Ortiz:If I hadn't become a plastic surgeon, I would likely have pursued a career in trauma surgery. The idea of being part of a team that can save a life in critical situations is very appealing. While the hours can be long, the rewards of this field are significant.

What's your favorite movie genre?

Dr. Ortiz:That's a tough one, because I do enjoy movies in general. However, I would say that science fiction is my favorite genre. The most recent sci-fi movie I watched and enjoyed with my sons was the adaptation of "Dune" (a fantastic book as well). It had incredible cinematography and action sequences.

What do you find most rewarding about being a military surgeon?

Dr. Ortiz:As I mentioned before, the greatest privilege of being a military surgeon is the opportunity to care for our service members and their families. Another great aspect of being in the military is the sense of camaraderie. No matter where you are stationed in the world, you feel like you're surrounded by family when you're with your fellow service members.

What's your signature dish?

Dr. Ortiz:My wife loves my baking, especially my incredible cheese flan, which is made from my mother's recipe. I don't mean to brag, but it's truly delicious.

Pearls of Wisdom from a Retiring Military Plastic Surgeon

The Patient Comes First: Military service demands sacrifice, but never let that diminish the importance of individual care. Listen to your patients' stories, understand their injuries and tailor your approach to their physical and emotional needs.

Function Over Form: We strive for aesthetics, but in the military context, function is paramount. Prioritize restoring a patient's ability to serve, perform daily activities and live a fulfilling life. A scar may tell a story of courage, but regaining mobility is a victory.

Resourcefulness Is Key: Deployments and austere environments often mean limited resources. Be prepared to innovate, improvise and utilize your skills to achieve the best outcome possible with what's available. Think creatively, but never compromise patient safety.

Teamwork Saves Lives: Military medicine thrives on collaboration. Work seamlessly with nurses, therapists and other specialists. Communicate openly, share your expertise and leverage the strengths of your team for the best patient care.

Mental Fortitude Matters: War and combat injuries can be gruesome. Develop coping mechanisms to manage the emotional toll. Seek support from colleagues, mentors and mental health professionals if needed. Your well-being is crucial to serving your patients effectively.

Embrace Lifelong Learning: The field of medicine is constantly evolving. Stay current with new techniques, technologies and research. Attend conferences, participate in workshops and mentor younger colleagues as you continue to learn and grow.

The Scars You Heal Are More Than Physical: You mend bodies, but you also mend lives. Recognize the profound impact you have on your patients. Their resilience and courage will inspire you throughout your career.

Remember, this journey is both challenging and deeply rewarding. Take pride in the work you do, treat your patients with compassion and respect and never stop learning. You are the future of military plastic and reconstructive surgery. Now, go forth and heal.

The ASPS Military Plastic Surgeons Forum is operated by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a 501(c)(6) professional organization, and is not in any way affiliated with the United States or foreign military or government (or any branch or agency thereof), including the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, the Department of Defense nor any branch of the U.S. military (e.g. the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps or Space Force). The views and opinions which appear in the Forum are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy of the United States government, or any branch or agency thereof.