GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany -- More than 100 military veterinary personnel from 19 countries participated in the International Military Veterinary Medical Symposium, hosted by Public Health Command Europe in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, May 23- 26.
The annual symposium brings together military veterinarians to exchange and discuss best practices, share ideas, build interoperability and foster relationships. This year, countries from across the globe were represented from North America, to South America, Europe and Asia. Attendees represented the Army and Air Force.
"This year’s theme, "Health Security through Interoperability", highlights the work we do as veterinarians and public health professionals to keep our service members and communities healthy," stated Col. Kenneth Spicer, Public Health Command Europe commander. "Now that we are finally coming out of the pandemic after almost two years, I am pleased that we can meet in person again. This is the time to re-kindle partnerships with foreign military services and allies and build new relationships for the future."
Presentations aimed to exchange knowledge, foster relationships and learn about the capabilities and challenges of veterinary forces across the globe.
"This year, as we mark the 67th iteration of this symposium, dating back to 1952, I ask we celebrate the successful international collaboration opportunities and partnerships that have been cultivated over the years," said Col. Deborah Whitmer, U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Chief. "I encourage everyone to use this week to develop and grow professional partnerships that will carry us forward as we face the veterinary and public health challenges of tomorrow together."
Veterinarians not only provide care to military working dogs, which are crucial to executing the mission, but also ensure safe wholesome food and water sources for service members and their families through sanitary inspections on military installations and audits of commercial food manufacturing and processing plants.
During the four-day symposium, representatives from the participating countries provided briefings that accentuated best practices and challenges in veterinary public health, food and zoonotic disease surveillance and controls.
Each year, the Veterinary Corps chooses a McNellis guest speaker for the symposium, and this year, Air Force retired Col. Donald Noah was invited to speak.
"The McNellis speaker is a retired U.S. or international Veterinary Corps Chief who has made significant contributions to their Veterinary Corps," said Lt. Col. Audrey McMillan-Cole, PHCE Veterinary Services Chief. "BG McNellis is credited with saving the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps when it was slated for dissolution in 1956."
Noah shared his unique experiences in assignments not typically held by veterinary corps officers such as being the first U.S. military liaison to the CDC, a counter proliferation officer at the Central Intelligence Area, Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Biodefense at Department of Health and Human Services, and Deputy Assistance Secretary for Force Health Protection and Readiness for the Department of Defense.
The symposium concluded with Food and Water Safety and Veterinary Support committee. The NATO meeting consisted of expert panel members from more than 10 countries and focused on working towards standardizing public health and food safety and procurement processes amongst participating NATO countries.