Public Health Activity -- Italy leaders visited Israel recently, to meet with Israeli Defense Force leaders and conduct two sanitary audits.

The meeting came on the heels of Public Health Command Europe's annual International Military Veterinary Medicine One Health Symposium, which took place in April. The symposium provided an opportunity for PHCE Veterinary Corps Officers to engage with Veterinary Officers of 20 Partner Nations. During the symposium, Public Health Activity- Italy's leadership met with MAJ Lavie Haim, the Deputy Head of Preventive Medicine of the Israeli Defense Force, and discussed the possibility of future collaboration.

During the June visit, PHA-I commander, Lt. Col. Sarah Goldman, and deputy commander, Maj. Angelina Gerardo, met with the IDF Preventive Medicine leaders to discuss strategies for advancing proficiency and readiness of their officers and opportunities for continuing education for veterinary officers.

The group also discussed the importance of incorporating public health Reserve component forces; disseminating best practices in public health at an upcoming Israeli conference; and understanding each other's organizational structure.

The group also discussed future opportunities for collaboration that would enhance the teamwork, facilitate a mutual appreciation and shared understanding of each other's missions, and ultimately ensure the technical readiness of their veterinary officers, Goldman said.

PHA-I leaders also had the opportunity to visit some of the IDF sites in northern Israel. Here, they saw the unique veterinary and public health challenges that IDF veterinary officers encounter on a daily basis, to include pest control and sanitation in bunkers, disease identification, food safety, and water treatment and testing at remote sites.

The group learned, first-hand, the important role public health plays when they visited unoccupied and occupied bunkers and spoke with several IDF infantry Soldiers.

"Although PHA-I Veterinary Corps officers serve similar roles on installations throughout Europe, this engagement presented a unique view into field operations," Goldman said. "This series of leadership engagements not only provided an opportunity to dialogue about opportunities and challenges but also gave us a first-hand appreciation for public health considerations in their operational environment."

In addition to the leadership discussions, PHA-I Soldiers worked with their Israeli counterparts to conduct two sanitary audits of Israeli water and juice facilities that support products to the DoD.

"Performing the mission alongside IDF veterinary officers proved critical to the success of these audits, which ultimately protect the health of our servicemembers," Goldman said. "[The Israeli Soldiers'] knowledge of food inspection and country-specific nuances in food production operations was incredibly helpful to PHA-I's auditors."

PHA-I Veterinary Corps officer, Capt. Kiva Auten, who was part of the group that audited the water and juice facilities, said she looks forward to future collaborations.

"The collaboration presented a unique chance to share information with and learn from another nation's veterinary officers," Auten said. "As a fellow veterinarian, it was interesting to discuss the differences in our education and experience."