CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Public Health Activity-San Diego, alongside Defense Health Agency, Navy Facility Engineering and Acquisition Division Southwest, and RQ Construction, hosted a groundbreaking ceremony marking the beginning of construction on a new Veterinary Treatment Facility for the Camp Pendleton community on Oct. 26, 2023.
"Any day that we can increase access and quality to care for our Military Working Dogs and privately owned animals is a great day," said Dr. (Lt. Col.) Andy Kay, PHA-SD commander. "It is a great location, and it will provide great opportunities for our staff not only on the animal side but food defense and food safety, a lot more unit cohesion and team building and getting after our core mission."
The new building will unite the Army Veterinary Corps food protection and animal care teams, increase the capabilities, readiness, and deployability of Marine Corps MWDs, provide convenient care for POAs of DoD beneficiaries, and enable a mission that reaches every individual on the installation.
Several new features will improve care and collaboration, including dedicated MWD exam rooms and entrance, expanded space for hiring more staff, accommodating additional POA appointments, and the co-location of the PHA-SD food inspection team within the building.
Dr. (Maj.) Peony Kim, PHA-SD Camp Pendleton Branch officer-in-charge, says that having both teams united under one roof is a significant part of this project and, frankly, rare in the DoD. This feature, in particular, was one she fought for throughout her involvement in the project planning.
In addition to the overall excitement of a brand-new treatment facility, uniting the two missions of food protection for the entire base and the animal mission is a huge accomplishment," said Kim. "This new shared space will contribute to team cohesion, a greater awareness and appreciation for the entire mission, and it will also lend itself to more cross-training opportunities between the food inspectors (68R) and animal care specialists (68T)."
The current VTF serves one of the largest populations of military families and DoD beneficiaries' pets in the Pacific, in addition to the care they provide to MWDs and food protection for Marines and their families.
"Our mission, as Army Veterinary Services, encompasses both animals and humans, and the reason we can be found at any installation, regardless of branch of service, is because we are responsible for the animal and food protection mission for the entire DoD – from Army to Space Force and everything in between," explains Kim.
At the ceremony, Joe Kascak, MCB Camp Pendleton Veterinary Facility Planner and Project Sponsor, emphasized the long-awaited excitement and anticipation for the new facility. He highlighted the enhanced support it will provide to warfighters and their families.
“This is a beautiful location, and it’s going to be convenient for the families with the back gate right behind us,” said Kascak. “Today is a significant day as this project is 20 years in the making, and it’s finally coming to fruition.”
The new facility, being built by RC Construction in conjunction with NAVFAC and oversight by Defense Health Agency, is expected to open in spring 2025.