The Vicenza Veterinary Treatment Facility officially opened the doors to its new clinic co-located with the U.S. Army Health Center-Vicenza on Caserma Ederle, Oct. 31.

The grand opening marked the first time that a VTF has operated within the same footprint as a medical and dental treatment facility on a garrison installation.

"This monumental feat embodies the one health initiative as the joint focus on uniting human and veterinary medicine to enhance public health, clinical medicine, and animal care to protect the Soldiers worldwide," said Col. Rebecca Porter, Public Health Command Europe Commander.

The relocation of the Vicenza VTF, which is part of Public Health Activity-Italy, makes it more centrally located and easily accessible to customers. Prior to the move, the clinic was located on a separate installation nearly 30 minutes from Caserma Ederle.

Even though the VTF is now located within the U.S. Army Health Center Vicenza building, pets are not allowed in the medical or dental areas and must use a separate entrance.

"We have worked closely with the U.S. Army Health Clinic and the [Dental Health Activity] teams to ensure a safe, convenient experience for our human patients as well as our four-legged clients," said Lt. Col. Sarah Goldman, PHA-Italy Commander. "There is a separate entrance for pets and their owners so there's no need to cross ways with human patients."

In addition to providing easier access to customers, the new VTF has three large exam rooms; separate cat and dog waiting rooms; a state of the art surgical suite; an x-ray room; a kennel room and a separate entrance for military working dogs.

"Our capabilities will be the same as in the previous location," said Capt. Jennifer Silvers, an Army veterinarian and officer in charge of the Vicenza branch said. "However, the move has allowed us to update most of our equipment, which allows us to offer an even higher standard of care to our patients."

Silvers went on to say the VTF is important for service members getting ready for a permanent change of station who need a health certificate for their pet to be able to travel.

"Additionally, having an English speaking veterinarian gives our service members and their families comfort when they are stationed in a foreign country," Silvers said. "We work closely with local veterinarians in the Vicenza community to help provide the quality and expeditious service to our patients, especially for hospitalization and complicated surgeries."

And while caring for the more than 3,000 service member-owned pets is a huge part of what the Vicenza VTF does, Porter highlighted the importance of the new VTF in support of PHCEs primary mission.

"Our primary mission in the VTF is to care for our military working dogs," Porter said. "These 'VIDs'- Very Important Dogs - play a critical role in force protection and helping to safeguard our military bases and activities; detecting explosives or other items before they inflict harm and deploying worldwide to support the War on Terror."

To honor the MWDs treated at the Vicenza VTF, the new clinic also includes a "Military Working Dog Wall of Fame," with photos and names of the MWDs that receive care at the facility.

"These dogs are invaluable assets to our warfighters, and they will always be our top priority at our Veterinary Treatment Facility," Porter said.

The Vicenza Veterinary Treatment Facility ensures the medical readiness of MWDs and provides veterinary care for privately owned animals of service members and their families. In addition to animal care services, Vicenza VTF veterinarians and food inspectors conduct a number of missions to ensure food safety for warfighters and their families.

For more information about PHCE, visit http://rhce.amedd.army.mil/phce/index.cfm