A team from Joint Base Lewis-McChord recently traded their military fatigues for scrubs when they spent a week in the OHS Holman Medical Center learning high-quality, high-volume spay-and-neuter techniques and processes. It was the first time a military unit trained at the Oregon Humane Society.
The group of five veterinarians and five veterinary technicians were refining their skills in preparation for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission this summer, where they will be spaying and neutering pets in an under-served community in the Northeast.
Innovative Readiness Training
What is Innovative Readiness Training? According to the Department of Defense, IRT is a military training opportunity — exclusive to the United States and its territories — that delivers joint training opportunities to increase deployment readiness. Simultaneously, IRT provides key services (health care, construction, transportation, and cybersecurity) with lasting benefits for our American communities.
Making the Connection
The connection between the U.S. Army and OHS goes back to 2013 when Major Makensie Santiago was an Oregon State University veterinary student doing a rotation at OHS. Fast forward to 2019 and Major Santiago knew OHS was the perfect place for her team to learn the latest high-quality, high-volume spay-and-neuter methods in preparation for their IRT mission.
It may be surprising to learn that the military employs veterinarians and veterinary technicians, but they play a unique role. In addition to IRT deployments, the Army Veterinary Corp cares for military working dogs and service members’ pets. They are also involved in public health initiatives related to food safety, biomedical research and development.
Major Santiago reached out to Dr. Kirk Miller, OHS veterinarian and OSU clinical instructor, and proposed the idea of her unit spending a week working and learning in the Holman Medical Center.
According to Dr. Miller, who is also a military veteran, “It was a great chance for us to learn too.”
Deploying a More Humane Society
The military unit and the staff in the OHS Holman Medical Center developed a special camaraderie during their week together. Most importantly, Major Santiago and her team gained valuable new skills that they will bring back to the communities they serve. “We learned surgical techniques this week that will help us increase our speed and confidence,” says Major Santiago. “We really appreciate the opportunity.”