They’re in the Army now
My daughter, a high school senior who has dreamed of becoming a veterinarian since she was in grade school — sound familiar? — hasn’t given much thought to what veterinary school will cost a few years from now or how she will pay for it. I, on the other hand, have been thinking about college tuition and student loans, which is why I was intrigued when I met U.S. Army Maj. Jodi D. Stoafer at the Fetch conference in Kansas City.
Major Stoafer, an Army Veterinary Corps recruiter, opened my eyes to the Health Professions Scholarship Program, which covers $120,000 in veterinary school tuition and provides the 30 students accepted each year with a monthly stipend of $2,300, starting in their second year.
After graduation, the new veterinarians spend three years in uniform as commissioned officers (captain’s rank) and do what they were taught in veterinary school, and then some. The Veterinary Corps serves all the military branches at installations across the United States and overseas, operating clinics that see family pets, tending to military police working dogs and even horses, and checking food safety.
The first stop for a veterinary officer is the Direct Commissioning Course. “It’s where you learn about Army traditions and history, how to wear the uniform, how to salute, how to march — all those soldier skills,” Major Stoafer said.
After that, it’s the Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. “When other soldiers look at them, they see a captain; they don’t see a brand-new veterinarian,” Major Stoafer said.
Her bottom line to students considering a job as an Army veterinarian — either for three years or longer — is this: “It’s going to teach you how to run your own business one day, it’s going to pay for your school, and you’ll do things in Army veterinary medicine that you would not be able to do at a [civilian] clinic.”
I gave a Veterinary Corps brochure to my daughter to at least make her aware of the opportunity. If you know students who might be interested, send them to this website: veterinarycorps.amedd.army.mil.
What do you think? Email me at [email protected].
Ken Niedziela, editor