VILSECK, Germany – Capt. Anna Schultz wanted to become a veterinarian from an early age on. More than 25 years later after several twists and turns, she made that dream a reality and is on her second assignment as an Army veterinarian.
In her role as the officer in charge of the Vilseck Veterinary Treatment Facility, one of her primary missions is to take care of the military working dogs assigned to the installation.
“Our Military Working Dog mission gives us unique opportunities to care for incredibly talented animals and develop close partnerships with handlers, who are essentially our first responders,” said Schultz.
A Michigan native, Schultz grew up in Harrison, where her family had dogs and other pets as long as she can remember.
“When some of our hunting dogs were injured, I was too young to help with their care but I wanted to do more. Through that experience, I learned the importance of veterinary medicine and it sparked a desire to learn,” said Schultz.
Wanting to help her dogs inspired her to become a veterinarian, but Schultz describes her career path as “what you could describe as a bowl of spaghetti, rather than streamlined.”
“I had this passion in the back of my mind, but no means to achieve my dream," said Schultz. "In pursuit of that goal I worked every job from bagging groceries, waiting tables at restaurants, delivering blood for the Red Cross, and enlisting in the Army."
Schultz was seventeen when she walked into the recruiter’s office with her dream to become an Army veterinarian, but unfortunately, she did not qualify at that time.
“When I was told there were other ways that I could become a Soldier, I didn’t know much about it but I was ready to give it a shot,” said Schultz.
Schultz enlisted as a Signal Corps Soldier in the mid 1990s, learning how to set up and operate mobile communications networks.
“I enjoyed my work and I had a great experience, but I couldn’t see myself in that job forever. It didn't fulfill me,” explained Schultz.
Thanks to her knowledge and expertise gained in the Army, Schultz was able to get a job with an American telecommunications company that provided her a steady income and security for 12 years. During most of that time, she volunteered at veterinary clinics and animal shelters, while chipping away at the requirements for veterinary school.
Schultz re-joined the U.S. Army after completing her veterinary education in 2015.
“I enjoy serving my country and giving back to those who make it possible for me to live the life I hoped to live,” said Schultz.
Schultz says she is particularly inspired by the warrior ethos mantra to never accept defeat, and never quit.
“The warrior ethos helped guide me through doubts and challenges along my career path. I struggled for many years with trying to go to school and work at the same time and had major challenges along the way, but I never quit,” she said. ”That is one thing I am very proud of and try to encourage in others.”
Schultz is grateful to be living her dream and hopes her story will help inspire others to fight for their dreams.
“To relieve or prevent suffering is such a rewarding experience,” she explained. “Especially to follow through the tough cases and see improvement in the quality of life - of not only the animal patient, but their family as well."