Saturday, February 4, 2023

From Navy SEAL to Riverside’s New Orthopedic Surgeon

Dr. Daniel Valaik has taken his experience and passion for caring for wounded warriors to his role as Riverside’s new orthopedic surgeon. (Courtesy of Daniel Valaik)

WILLIAMSBURG — Dr. Daniel Valaik is a U.S. Navy veteran who has taken his experience and passion for caring for hundreds of wounded warriors to Riverside Doctors’ Hospital in Williamsburg.

Riverside’s new orthopedic surgeon said that he has always been passionate about hip and knee replacement surgery.

“I think its two of the most successful operations we have in orthopedics,” Dr. Valaik said. “You take a patient with severe hip or knee pain that really limits their life. Pretty much with one surgery, we’re able to relieve that pain and get them back to a pretty active lifestyle. I think it’s a powerful thing.”

Dr. Valaik retired from the Navy in 2009 after 26 years, which included six years as a Navy SEAL.

The pinnacle of his military career was his last six years in the Navy, where he had the “privilege” to care for wounded warriors with orthopedic injuries from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“That was a challenging time, but as a surgeon I learned so much and grew so much,” he said.

Dr. Valaik said that his experience caring for the nation’s wounded led him to become a more confident surgeon.

“Having taken care of the worst of the worst injuries in the past, you kind of have seen it all and done it all,” he said. “At times it was pretty hard even as a surgeon to keep dealing with such severe injuries, yet after all that I really learned a lot.”

Since retiring from the Navy, Dr. Valaik has been an orthopedic surgeon with The John Hopkins University School of Medicine for the past 12 years. He served as the regional chief of the Johns Hopkins National Capital Region Orthopedic Surgery division.

Ready for a change, Dr. Valaik said that he is excited to be caring for patients in the Hampton Roads area.

Over the years, Dr. Valaik has seen an evolution in hip and knee replacement.

“Even in my 20-year practice lifetime, patients recover faster now due to better surgical techniques and procedures,” he said.

Dr. Valaik brings his calling for joint replacement surgery to Williamsburg, an area that he noted has a large military community.

“I’ve always felt like the military was this great cross section of America,” he said. “Just good people trying to serve a greater good. And I enjoy taking care of these patients.”

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