Army veterinarians return home
March 25, 2013
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- When Capt. Paul Key, executive officer, 438th Medical Detachment (Veterinary Service), 10th Combat Support Hospital, marched into the Special Events Center for the unit's redeployment ceremony March 22, he was welcomed back by a person he was not expecting.
Key's best friend Capt. Jacob Abramowitz, executive officer, 11th Artillery Defense Air Brigade, Fort Bliss, surprised Key at the ceremony.
"I totally did not expect him to be here," Key said. "I am so excited. I can't wait to catch up with my Family and friends."
The 438th Med. Det. deployed in June 2012, where they supported coalition forces health protection by providing comprehensive veterinary services, to include: food safety inspection and defense, animal health care, veterinary preventive medicine and stability operations.
Col. James R. Andrews, commander, 10th CSH, welcomed the Soldiers home and spoke of his pride in the unit.
Andrews commented on the great success the unit had while accomplishing their mission, and that even through the harsh environment there were a number of reenlistments and promotions.
The unit also supported the Afghan National Army on two fronts by training ANA medics on food sanitation and protection, as well as on rabies control and risk reduction, which included vaccinating ANA sentry dogs. The unit directly supported the Farah Provincial Reconstruction Team and Farah Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock by providing veterinary training and advanced veterinary classes.
During their deployment, 438th Med. Det. tested food from 50 dining facilities in Afghanistan using the first surveillance lab ever established in theater, which helped identify food safety issues before they affected personnel. They also conducted food inspections for more than 130 forward operating bases and combat outposts throughout Regional Command South, Southwest, and West, saving the government more than $15 million.
As the Soldiers filed into the SEC, cheering and screams of joy erupted from their Families and loved ones. Soldiers sang the Army song, before being released to reunite with their Families.
Friends and Family rushed to reunite with their Soldiers with smiles, tears and open arms once the ceremony concluded.
"I am so relieved," said Elizabeth Sager, spouse of Staff Sgt. Thomas Sager, animal care specialist, 438th Med. Det. "The hardest part of him being gone was keeping him in the forefront with the kids. Letting them know that he was thinking about them, that he missed them, that he was doing his job and what had to be done; but he still thought of them, still loved them and was missing them.
"I'm just glad they're home safe and this is over," Elizabeth Sager said. "We can get back to living our lives. I'm glad the worrying is over."
After the long wait, Families left the SEC to spend long overdue quality time together.
"I feel very relaxed now that I am home with my Family," said Sgt. Nathan Kuhnle, animal care specialist, 438th Med. Det. "I can't wait to spend as much time as I can with them."