By Kirk FradyJune 1, 2012
The U.S. Army Veterinary Corps celebrates its 96th anniversary June 3, although the need
for military veterinary expertise had been evolving since 1776, when Gen. George Washington
directed that a "regiment of horse with a farrier," be raised.
The Veterinary Corps was formally established by an Act of Congress June 3, 1916. Following
the establishment of an Air Force Veterinary Corps in 1949, the Army shared military veterinary
responsibilities with its sister service.
In 1979, Congress directed changes to the Department of Defense veterinary missions. The
Air Force Veterinary Corps was disestablished March 31, 1980 and the Army became the executive agent for all DOD veterinary services.
"The Veterinary Corps is a national treasure, composed of diverse engaged individuals
protecting the Soldier and supporting the National Military Strategy," said Col. Edward J. Briand, branch proponent chief for the Army Veterinary Corps.
"We provide veterinary public health capabilities through veterinary medical and surgical care,
food safety and defense, and biomedical research and development."
The U.S. Army Veterinary Corps continues to significantly impact current operations. Veterinary unit commanders and their personnel are critical in effecting remarkably low food-borne illness
rates. This is a result of veterinary inspection of subsistence in the United States, as well
as the approval of safe food sources around the world. Army veterinarians ensure the health
of military working dogs and assist with host-nation related animal emergencies.
Veterinary staff advisors also play key roles regarding issues involving chemical and biological
"The Veterinary Corps has diverse specialties including Veterinary Preventive Medicine, Laboratory Animal Medicine, Veterinary Pathology, Veterinary Comparative Medicine, and Veterinary Clinical Medicine," Briand said.
"The Veterinary Corps also conducts and oversees all Department of Defense veterinary
service activities providing veterinary services to the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force in
more than 90 countries."
At home, military veterinary supervision of operational ration assembly plants, supply and distribution points, ports of debarkation, and other types of subsistence operations are critical to
ensuring safe, wholesome food for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and their family members.
The large segment of the Veterinary Corps involved in medical research and development
missions contribute immeasurably to the overall military effort.
Vaccine, antitoxin, and antidote development, directed toward the protection of military
personnel, has been and will continue to be, heavily reliant on military veterinary expertise.