News: Time to get your hands dirty
Story by Staff Sgt. Gregory Sanders
By Maj. Bryan D. Woods
85th Civil Affairs Brigade Public Affairs
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Some might say that the best place to get an education is down on the farm. Well, 10 soldiers from the 85th Civil Affairs Brigade saw the benefits of their education, March 2, at the Texas A&M campus.
Medically trained soldiers are attending the six-week Civil Affairs Medical Sergeant’s Course, hosted by the Fort Sam Houston Army Medical Department Center and School, and the Veterinarian Medical Park Department at Texas A&M. The course is intended to train soldiers to become a senior medic for a four-man team civil affairs team in order to support global civil affairs missions.
“This training course is critical to our Civil Affairs missions as most of our personnel are medical personnel,” said Lt. Col. David Sculli, the 85th CA Bde. operations officer. “We have an average of 25 percent of our unit made up of medical personnel expected to provide professional veterinarian advice to farmers concerning the health and well being of their animals in austere environments such as areas in South America and Africa.”
Some of the soldiers that have never been on a farm were able to have full day of hands-on training with a variety of large to small-scale livestock ranging from: cattle, equines, goats, poultry, and swine. This is to ensure they receive a full well-rounded exposure to the wide variety of animals they might see during a routine civil affairs mission.
“These soldiers are here for 5 to 6 weeks going through a program involving extensive preventive medicine, food hygiene, veterinarian care, and finally a week of dentistry,” said Lt Col. Cheryl Sofaly, the Chief of the Animal Branch, Army Medical Department Center and School. “This department at the university provides the hands on training with the large animals that we cannot provide on Fort Sam Houston,” said Sofaly
The animals residing on the premises are managed under the Independent Protection Rehabilitation Program, which is a Department of Defense program that provides animals for students as training aides.
This course is not for the faint at heart. Soldiers are shown in detail, the common diseases senior medics will observe in the field. They are also taught the proper handling of animals from the field, to slaughter, and finally to the dinner table.
“We show the students common diseases such as aeronautic and zoological importance when it comes to the health of humans,” said Sofaly. “Depending on where they are working, they could be asked to perform disease management control - we discuss with them some of the things they will need to consider when managing this program.”
By the end of the food hygiene phase, soldiers will take a tour of a slaughter facility with a Department of Agriculture health inspector. They will review the proper management of the animal selection process, the sanitary requirements, and finally physically observe a slaughter take place.
“We also teach them proper management of animal slaughters, as this will be commonly exposed to in the field,” said Sofaly.
Friday’s demonstration provided the soldiers with only an exposure and awareness to the veterinarian field.
“Our job is to educate future vets to perform globally in order to properly advise villagers on the health of their animals,” said Dr. Clay Ashley, an instructor with the Veterinarian Medical Park.
“Do not ever try to pretend that you know more information about the animals than the local villagers,” said Ashley.
The 85th CA Bde. is headquartered on Fort Hood, Texas. It is an active duty brigade with one activated civil affairs battalion. The brigade is in the process of standing up four more civil affair battalions with two activating later this year. The other battalions are slated to activate in 2013.