FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Patrons taking pets to the Fort Jackson Veterinary Treatment Facility will notice some changes that include a fee increase, as well as more comprehensive care.

"There is an increase in the focus on animals' (overall health)," said Capt. Bennett Arble, a Veterinary Corps officer at the Fort Jackson clinic.

The Veterinary Command merged with the Preventive Medicine Command in October to form the Public Health Command. This merger is expected to improve veterinary services.

The first major change patrons may notice is a move away from vaccination-driven appointments and a move toward emphasizing patient wellness and preventive care.

Wellness package appointments that are now being offered at clinics Armywide will provide comprehensive care to include a physical exam, routine diagnostics, client education and vaccinations.

"We want to make sure animals get ... more thorough examinations," said Sgt. Amanda Broome, vet clinic noncommissioned officer-in-charge.

Purchasing any of the wellness packages is optional. All veterinary services will continue to be offered "a la carte," and can be purchased individually.

The Fort Jackson clinic will benefit from the changes in that it is receiving high-tech equipment such as digital X-ray and ultrasound machines. Staff will also receive training so they can provide more services than were available in the past.

"We'll have more in-depth services and more client education," Broome said. "We're going to get to know people's pets better."

Another major change is the standardization of CONUS and OCONUS military veterinary clinics, meaning that clients can expect the same services for the same price no matter what installation they visit. This is expected to be a significant improvement in the consistency of care provided, Broome said.

As part of the standardization process, clinic charges will vary depending on who examines the pet, so patrons will pay a $25 veterinary exam fee or a $10 technician fee.

Some other increases may also occur, Broome said.

The clinic is open to active duty military, retirees and their family members. For information, call the Fort Jackson Veterinary Treatment Facility at 751-7160.