JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Six Soldiers from the 218th Medical Detachment (Veterinary Service Support), 47th Combat Support Hospital, 62nd Medical Brigade based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom -- Horn of Africa from September 2018 to June 2019.
The Soldiers were split into two teams which provided veterinary services to 15 military working dogs and food services to more than 5,500 Sailors, Soldiers and Department of Defense civilians during the nine-month deployment.
Both teams were comprised of a field service veterinarian, food inspection noncommissioned officer and an animal care NCO. This unique composition allowed the members to provide a full spectrum of services at Camp Lemonnier.
"Our mission was primarily to support base operations at Camp Lemonnier," said Capt. Lisa Crevoiserat, 218th Medical Detachment (Veterinary Service Support) field service veterinarian. "But we also provided support to service members (and) military working dogs who traveled further downrange on missions throughout the Horn of Africa and beyond."
To support the MWDs, the team had a fully functional veterinary clinic at their disposal. In addition to providing routine care, the team was available and well-prepared for 24/7 on-call emergencies.
"Working shifts at JBLM Veterinary Treatment Facility on McChord Field helped by providing the opportunity for me to sharpen my clinical skills on routine procedures and lab work," said Sgt. Jonathan Bloodworth, 218th Medical Detachment (Veterinary Service Support) animal care NCO.
Ensuring quality and safety of the food available to service members at Camp Lemonnier also proved to be a busy mission. Both teams inspected approximately $50 million dollars-worth of food products upon receipt at the naval galley before being loaded into more than 64 ships heading out to resupply naval vessels.
Monthly inspections of all food service establishments on the base helped to ensure that food was stored properly. The food inspection NCOs were also kept busy with shelf-life extension inspections, due to the possibility of items expiring before they can be used or sold.
In addition, the team performed sanitation audits at several facilities providing food, water and ice to service members throughout the Horn of Africa, as well as food and water risk assessments at several local restaurants in support of the morale welfare and recreation off-base organized events.
"Being able to identify the early signs of food tampering or deterioration ensured we had the best quality of food available for our service members," said Staff Sgt. Ekyeh, Food Inspection NCO.
The 218th MDVSS couldn't have completed their mission without the support of the Navy Expeditionary Medical Facility, who they were attached to throughout their deployment.
"I really enjoyed working with our Navy counterparts," said Crevoiserat. "They were all very happy to help us with anything we needed and I think they enjoyed learning about the Army Veterinary Services mission and what we bring to the table from a Force Health perspective."