By Ms. Michelle Thum (Regional Health Command Europe)July 23, 2019
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --- The Spangdahlem Veterinary Treatment Facility worked together with the Red Cross and Spangdahlem High School to offer a job shadow program for high school students from October 2018 to June 2019.
Brianna Townsend and Brian Haney were able to log over 313 hours of volunteer time at the Spangdahlem Veterinary Treatment Facility by volunteering several days a week during the school year.
This is the first time the Veterinary Treatment Facility established this opportunity for High School students to gain veterinary experience in a remote, overseas location through the High School Practicum Program.
"We are so glad to be able to offer learning opportunities for aspiring veterinarians and veterinary technicians in a remote, overseas location because there are no other options for these students to get hands-on experience in a clinical setting," said Maj. Monika Jones, veterinarian and officer in charge of the Spangdahlem VTF. "The experiences these students can gain here can shape the decisions they make in college when they are trying to decide on a career to pursue. I am so thankful that we can partner with the Red Cross and the High School to open the door for students to have realistic exposure to the profession. We are very proud of what we do here at the Spangdahlem VTF and are happy to support the program!"
The goal of the career practicum was to expose the students to various aspects of Veterinary medicine and preventive health care of military working dogs and privately-owned animals.
Townsend and Haney were not only able to shadow the veterinarians but they also had the opportunity to learn valuable skills to assist in daily operations of the VTF such as kennel inspections, MWD health care, inventory management, and re-stocking supplies.
Besides training in veterinary care, the program allows students to work at jobsites including a salon, the fire department, the 52nd Medical Group, the air traffic control tower, and other locations on base, according to Kathy Campbell, Spangdahlem High School Career Practicum Technology teacher.
"We have gone from having 12 students at the beginning of this year to more than 20 who are signed up next year," Campbell said.
This is the first year the program has been developed to this extent here. Besides obtaining life experience, participating seniors earn credit towards graduation, Campbell said.
The primary mission of the Spangdahlem VTF is the care of military working dogs. The VTF is responsible for all MWDs that are currently assigned to Spangdahlem's 52nd Security Forces Squadron, and their health care needs, to include semi-annual examinations, annual lab work and vaccinations, and emergency support for any illness or injury an MWD may sustain.
Additionally, the VTF also provides care to an estimated 2,500 pets owned by service members stationed on Spangdahlem Air Base and surrounding areas. The VTF's mission is unique compared to a Veterinary Clinic on the economy, which sees only privately owned animals.