Friday, March 26, 2010

The Army Veterinary Corps

Many many of you have asked me, "So whats with all this Army talk?" I didn't really want to tell a lot of people because its a difficult scholarship to actually receive. BUT, since I put it on a Facebook status one day -- I essentially told the world....with no explanation.

The Army is the only branch with a Veterinary Corps. Other branches have animal health professionals, but not in a way that you can get your school paid for, and actually practice as a veterinarian when "active". They are only giving 5 scholarships to the nation of 2nd year veterinary students this year. If I receive this scholarship, the Army will pay for my last two years of vet school, and I will be paid while I am enrolled. In return, I will serve in the Army for three years "active duty." Since the Army is the only branch of Military with the Veterinary Corps program -- their veterinarians get sent to all the military branch bases to care for the working dogs, military personnel's animals, ceremonial horses, as well as do food health inspections, so I could be on Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard bases.

I will get to remain enrolled at MSU-CVM and graduate in 2012. Once I graduate I will be sent to an 18 month "state-side" assignment. This will most likely be a military base somewhere in the USA. There I will run a 8-5 M-F practice, and be paid a normal veterinarian's salary.....but also get full government benefits including a "living expense," "health care" (not sure how the new bill affected this one), discounts on groceries, blah blah etc. I will come in ranked as a "Captain." Along with the day to day practice, I will be trained in food inspections. The last year or so of my service (if I do not decide to continue my career) will be overseas somewhere taking care of working dogs, horses, and food safety for the soldiers. It may be in a "high risk" area and I am aware of that. To address it for those of you who are worried; here is my opinion on the matter ... if it is my time to go, it doesn't matter where I am-- its going to happen anyway. I would much rather go out with a 21 Gun Solute and know that my family will be taken care of; not to mention the valor and respect that comes along with it....than have said about me that some idiot drunk driving moron killed me. Ya got me?? If I choose to stay with the Army, and "re-commission" I can get my PhD-- paid for and be paid while receiving it. The commitment for that would be more years "in-service." I REALLY want to pursue this, but it just depends on where life takes Tyler and I with kids and his continued education as well.

I will have to go through a six week "Basic Training" course. It is not the exact same as those "enlisted" for the Army; we are treated WAY different. I even noticed this difference while we were in Jackson taking the physical. I was there with many 17-18 year olds who were "enlisting." The difference between the way I was treated, and the way they were treated was remarkable. If I receive the scholarship I will be considered "commissioned," and as I said before come in as a Captain. The training will be physical as well as weaponry, but it will also consist of 10 days "in the field" medical training....of which I am most excited about!!

I have spoken with several military personnel about this matter and surrounding issues. One of which is the recruiter (I know I know; you can't trust recruiters), I have also had in depth conversations with two military Veterinarians who have been through the program, as well as a Marine human doctor who went through a similar program, except, with human medicine instead of veterinary medicine. All have said they loved it, and would not have done anything different. Every bit of my knowledge base has come from these folk. Most veterinarians that I have talked with who did not do the program, but had the chance to apply, have said they wished they had done it. I have absolutely no reservations about this, and do pray that it is the Lord's will for me to be in this program.

For those of you wondering here are the reasons why I want to do this ... in no particular order.
  • I can finally stand when the "Armed Forces Salute" is played
  • I get to travel
  • MAJOR experiences involved here that I will not be able to receive anywhere else
  • Normal working hours (while "state-side") and no emergency "here go out and do it on your own" late night calls
  • well-paid (more so than a beginner veterinarian out of vet school)
  • HUGE chunk of debt that would later acquire interest will be paid for up front
  • get money while in school to live, eat, etc
  • I am tremendously patriotic and take "For God and Country" very seriously
  • broad working duties: food animal, small animal, horses, etc
  • my resume will be "kick butt" one day when I return to normal work force life
  • its only for a select few
  • will have a military medical basis and a practical/ functional/ on my feet, way of thinking
and many many more that I do not have time to sit here and write.

Here are a few pictures from my trip to Jackson. In order to apply for the scholarship, among MANY other things, applicants had to participate in an initial physical exam. Parameters tested here include: urinalysis, blood work, eye exam, neuro exam, hearing tests, "female" exam, walk like a duck, weight assessment, tons of questions about previous medical history, and on and on and on. We were there just about all day. I went with my friend Juliana, who is also applying for the scholarship.

We arrived around 8 pm and found out that supper ended at 9 pm so we had to RUN to the lobby to eat. Curfew was at 10 pm.

The hotel they put us up in was so nice!

We each got our own Queen sized bed.


Haha, when we each began to get ready we noticed we had brought the same shirt to wear to the physical. It said, "Real Doctors treat more than one species." We wore them anyway.

View from our hotel.

So, I have thought, and pondered, and prayed about this and really want it. However, if it does not work out...I know God has a plan for my life, and this just wasn't it. Please be praying for His will to be done for the next month or so. I will find out at the end of April...and of course update everyone as soon as possible. I have met many amazing people through this process, and have already had some memorable experiences....if nothing else happens, I will at least be thankful for friendships gained.

If you would like to know more go to:


stephanie said...

I will be praying for you. This sounds like it would be a awesome life to build for you and Tyler and your future children. You go girl!

Stephanie Lockaby

SM Edens said...

I am also praying for the Lord's best for you and Tyler. As long as you stay strongly committed to Him first, and also to Tyler -- then I can't object. (as long as I get LOTS and LOTS of opportunities to connect with my future grand-babies). :)

Love you.