Army Veterinary Corps Chief visits Holland Military Working Dog Hospital
Col. Deborah Whitmer, U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Chief, visits the LTC Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital at JBSA-Lackland Mar. 23, 2022. (Photo Credit: Joseph Kumzak, Army Medicine Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

Established in 1916, the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps has its first female corps chief in its 106-year history. Col. Deborah Whitmer became the 28th Corps Chief in January.

Whitmer was commissioned into the Adjutant General Corps, but joined the Army Veterinary Corps later as a veterinarian. She has served both on active duty and in the Army Reserves.

She said the Veterinary Corps has given her the opportunity to blend her two passions – being an Army officer and a veterinarian.

“We serve the military working animal population and the privately owned animal population,” said Whitmer. “We also support the war fighter and the DoD mission while doing absolutely the most enjoyable medical profession in the world -- being a veterinarian.”

She is delighted to serve as the first female corps chief, so she can inspire the next generation of veterinarians and members of the vet service team.

“I believe that when you don't see a reflection of who you see yourself to be in leadership roles -- that sometimes makes you wonder if you can achieve it,” she said.

Lt. Col. Angelina Gerardo, Chief of Epidemiology at the Holland Military Working Dog Hospital, said she is very excited for Whitmer to serve as the first female corps chief.

“She seems very motivated and has a lot of great initiatives,” Gerardo said. “I think she is going to be a great asset and representation for our corps.”

In addition to animal care, the Veterinary Corps is responsible for food safety and research and development.

“We serve the whole of DoD by ensuring the food safety and security of any products that service members consume on military installations and in remote locations,” Whitmer said.

She added “We have a very talented pool of individuals and they often times thrive in those traditional, military health roles that are not veterinary specific.”

As Whitmer takes lead of the corps, her primary focus will be supporting veterinary services personnel and mission execution during the transition of the Military Health System (MHS).

“My first strategic priority is leader development and talent management of the team of vet services personnel and veterinary corps officers, so that we are ensuring that their multi-talented capabilities are used not only in potentially vet specific missions, but in other types of roles that serve Army Medicine and serve the military health system,” she said.

“My philosophy about leadership is about bringing the most out of every single member that we have, so they can focus on their support to the war fighter and make sure that they themselves are going to be medically ready to support the ready-medical force.”