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NEWS | Oct. 3, 2014

Army Veterinary Corps hosts NATO health, food safety experts

By Kirk Frady Army Medical Command Public Affairs

The U.S. Army Veterinary Corps at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston hosted meetings Sept. 15-19 with NATO experts in food and water safety, veterinary services and training of military working dogs.

Approximately 40 expert panel members came in from 19 nations, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Finland, United Kingdom and the United States.

The meeting at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston focused on working to standardize public health and food safety and procurement processes amongst participating NATO countries. The group also worked towards standardizing training military working dogs used to counter improvised explosive devices across NATO.

"You have come a long way with standardized agreements for both food and water safety, which were not completed when I deployed," said Army Veterinary Corps chief Brig. Gen. John Poppe. "These agreements have improved operations in Afghanistan, especially with the ever-expanding role of the NATO Support Agency, with contracting services ranging from dining facilities to water bottling facilities.

"On the animal side, consider ways to maximize all medical assets in theater," Poppe continued. "Medical assets, especially in veterinary medicine, are always limited and are considered precious resources on the battlefield. In addition, I applaud your continued efforts to improve medical support for our military working dogs, who depend on us to be their advocate."

"The standardized agreements the panels have worked on are the backbone of NATO interoperability," said Col. Timothy Stevenson, deputy director of the DOD Veterinary Service Activity-South at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. "Ensuring service members have access to safe, healthy, and high quality food is equally as important as ensuring they have the proper weapons and protective equipment.

"No matter how well equipped service members may be, if they lack energy and stamina because of insufficient food and water, they cannot fight effectively," Stevenson continued. "These agreements are a critical requirement for militaries to work together more effectively, leverage each other's strengths and share resources to save time, money and lives. In a world of ever tightening financial resources, all members of NATO are increasingly called upon to do more with less."

During the four-day meeting, panel experts toured the Lt. Col. Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital and Military Working Dog Training Program at JBSA-Lackland, the Army Medical Center and School Division of Veterinary Services and the Department of Defense Food Analysis and Diagnostic Laboratory at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.