100 years of Army Veterinary Corps service honored with new monument

By Jose E. Rodriguez, AMEDDC&S Public AffairsJune 6, 2016

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1 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
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7 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Major Troy D. Creason, Assistant to the Chief, U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, poses with Bainbridge, a horse with the Fort Sam Houston Caisson Section. Major Creason and Bainbridge served as the models for the Soldier and the house depicted in the new U... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

A bronze sculpture representing the diverse 100-year history of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps was unveiled at the U.S. Army Medical Department Museum on Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Brigadier General Erik H. Torring, Chief, U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, together with Dr. Joseph Kinnarney, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and Ms. Donna Dobberfuhl, the artist commissioned to create the monument, unveiled the life-sized sculpture. The AVMA, through its charitable arm the American Veterinary Medical Foundation along with the Uniformed Veterinary Medicine Association, provided funding for the monument.

The Army Veterinary Corps commissioned San Antonio artist Donna Dobberfuhl to design a unique sculpture representing their past and current missions. "All along my career, it's been about the passion for the art. I put all of my heart and all of my soul into every one of my commissions. And in this one has it all, plus a little bit more," said Donna Dobberfuhl while thanking everyone for the opportunity to create the monument. Dobberfuhl's career spans over 40 years and one of her pieces is on display at the National Prisoner of War Museum in Andersonville, Georgia.

The monument has four distinct scenes depicting the Veterinary Corps history and primary missions. A World War I Veterinary Corps officer, with a horse, symbolizes the Corps origins as medical professionals charged with providing animal care. To the right is a Vietnam era officer utilizing a light microscope portrays the Veterinary Corps' significant contributions to medical research and development. Next, a Cold War era Veterinary Corps officer inspecting rations demonstrates the Corps' critical role in food protection. Finally, a contemporary era Veterinary Corps officer treating a military working dog represents the continuing evolutionary mission through animal health care.

Addressing the audience, Dr. Kinnarney mentioned the idea of recognizing the Veterinary Corps centennial anniversary with a statute was first envisioned last year. In just eight months, the monument was designed and created, with over 2,500 labor hours invested in the project. Speaking on behalf of the over 88,000 veterinarians in the U.S., Dr. Kinnarney thanked the members of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, and praised their 100 years of service.

After the ceremony, members of the Army Veterinary Corps demonstrated a mobile veterinary and surgery tent used on deployments. While downrange Army Veterinary Corps members can diagnose and treat animals, utilizing advanced medical equipment. Army food inspectors are responsible for ensuring the quality of food and fluids while deployed. Also on hand were members of the 509th Security Forces Squadron from Randolph Air Force Base demonstrating the abilities of their military working dogs.

In 1916, the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps was formally established. However, recognition of the need for veterinary expertise had been evolving since 1776 when General George Washington directed the raising of a "regiment of horse with a farrier". During the Civil War, the War Department general orders provided each cavalry regiment with a veterinary surgeon. The Spanish American War further raised awareness for human and animal health.

A lack of adequate food quality lead directly to the loss of thousands of Soldiers and rendered even greater number completely ineffective. The country began demanding action to preclude such catastrophes in the future. The AVMA and numerous other individuals began actively supporting legislation directed toward establishment of an Army Veterinary Corps. With the passage of the National Defense Act of 1916, veterinary officer commissioning became a reality, and the Army Surgeon General began the work of organizing the new corps within the regular army. When the United States entered World War I in 1917 there were 57 veterinarians working for the Army, primarily in the area of equine surgery and medicine. Within 18 months, the newly established Corps grew to 2,313 officers. Veterinary Corps participation in all of the United States conflicts since World War I has been an essential element in the maintenance of the health and wellbeing of both animals and Soldiers.

Today the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps are professionals with military, public health and specialty skill sets rarely found in the private sector. These highly trained specialists have a unique role in our nation's defense strategy. U.S. Army veterinarians ensure the strength of our veterinary public health capabilities through veterinary medical and surgical care, food safety, and biomedical research and development.

For more history on the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps visit the U.S. Army Medical Department website at http://veterinarycorps.amedd.army.mil/history.htm, and for information on joining visit the Go Army site at http://www.goarmy.com/amedd/veterinarian.html

Related Links:

U.S. Army Medical Department Museum

U.S. Army Medical Department

Go Army Veterinary Corps