By Ms. Valecia Dunbar (Army Medicine)June 4, 2013
The U.S. Army Veterinary Corps was formally established by an Act of Congress on June 3, 1916. However, recognition of the need for veterinary expertise had been evolving since 1776 when General Washington directed that a "regiment of horse with a farrier" be raised.
For more than 97 years, the Veterinary Corps has led the way in the development of nationally recognized education and training programs as well as innovative programs that focus on research and development, animal disease and injury prevention, veterinary pathology, and public health.
Today, the Veterinary Corps' role is characterized by the global impact of a highly skilled, adaptive and empowered Veterinary Team supporting full-spectrum operations for the Department of Defense to protect the health of Soldiers, Families, and beneficiaries by ensuring a safe, protected food supply in addition to playing a key role in not only animal care, but also in Veterinary Preventive Medicine, Laboratory Animal Medicine, Comparative Medicine, and Veterinary Pathology. Members of the Veterinary Corps are essential team members of Army Medicine, providing medical care to family pets and government-owned animals such as Military Working Dogs.
Veterinary Corps members have served in every major conflict and humanitarian mission since the Corps' inception in 1916. Army veterinarian's work in developing nations helps curtail diseases among livestock and other domestic animals to enhance health and productivity.
Veterinary Corps participation in all of our nation's conflicts since World War I has been an essential element in the maintenance of the health and well-being of both animals and Soldiers. The highly technical education obtained by veterinarians has continued to prepare them for their changing mission requirements for the past ninety-seven years.
The U.S. Army Veterinary Corps continues to significantly impact current operations. Veterinary unit commanders and their personnel are critical in effecting remarkably low food borne illness rates. This is, in great measure, a result of veterinary inspection of subsistence in the United States as well as the approval of safe food sources around the world. Army veterinarians ensure the health of military working dogs and assist with host-nation related animal emergencies. Veterinary staff advisors also play key roles regarding issues involving chemical and biological defense.
At home, military veterinary supervision of operational ration assembly plants, supply and distribution points, ports of debarkation, and other types of subsistence operations are critical to ensuring safe, wholesome food for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and their family members.
The large segment of the Veterinary Corps involved in Medical Research and Development missions contributes immeasurably to the overall military effort. Vaccine, antitoxin, and antidote development, directed toward the protection of military personnel, has been and will continue to be, heavily reliant on military veterinary expertise.
Today marks 97 years of historic achievements for which Veterinary Corps members, the DOD, and civilians can be tremendously proud. Accomplishing its broad functions of food safety and defense, animal care, veterinary public health, and research and development; the Veterinary Corps continues to be essential to military forces.