By Ms. Michelle Thum (Regional Health Command Europe)May 9, 2019
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany -- More than one hundred military veterinary personnel from 18 countries congregated in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, from April 29 to May 2, for the 65th International Military Veterinary Medical One Health Symposium, hosted by Public Health Command Europe.
Each year, the symposium brings together military veterinarians to exchange knowledge, discuss best practices, build interoperability and foster relationships. This year, countries represented included the U.S., Germany, Israel, Finland, Spain, Serbia and the Czech Republic, and attendees represented the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
The theme of this year's symposium was "Force Health Protection in the 21st Century" and focused on food protection, veterinary medicine and public health in order to improve the health of military communities.
"The U.S. Army Veterinary Corps holds an indispensable role in military medicine, force health protection, and humanitarian assistance," stated Col. Rebecca Porter, Public Health Command Europe commander. "Partnerships and working together with new and old allies and partner countries are essential to support peace and stability in today's world."
Presentations aimed to exchange knowledge, foster relationships and learn about the capabilities and challenges of veterinary forces across the globe. Veterinarians not only provide care to military working dogs, which are crucial to executing the mission, but also ensure safe wholesome food sources for service members and their families through sanitary inspections on military installations and commercial food audits.
Representatives from the participating countries provided briefings that accentuated best practices, challenges and also discussed positive outcomes from partnerships, such as joint food audits by the U.S. Army and Israeli forces.
"IMVMOHS is a great platform to build partnerships and support for U.S. and NATO military working dogs which are currently deployed in Kosovo for Operation Joint Guardian," said Maj. David Marquez, Kosovo Forces 25 Chief of Veterinary Services.
Col. Steven Greiner, Chief of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps and Director of Veterinary Services for the Deputy Chief of Staff-Public Health, first attended the symposium in 2016 as the commander of PHCE. He said at that time, PHCE began working with their German Bundeswehr counterparts, looking for ways to train together.
"Since then, we have come a great way," Greiner said. "PHCE has now established working relationships and regular joint training opportunities with Portugal, Italy and Israel [among others]."
He went on to say that interoperability is crucial because the U.S. will depend on having allies and partners in any future conflicts.
"We don't intend to fight alone and in order to work together and fight together we have to know how each other operates. This symposium is very unique; there's no other type of conference that brings in so many international military veterinarians and public health professionals to discuss common challenges and new innovations."