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Face of Defense: Soldiers Care for Furry Warriors


A small-town girl from Fremont, Ohio, had the dream of working in veterinary medicine. Little did she know she would walk straight out of high school and into an Army recruiter’s office where she would obtain a job caring for animals.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Valerie Garvin, Public Health Command District animal care specialist, budgets the Veterinary Treatment Facility income at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 20, 2016. As an animal care specialist, she manages and files everything in the facility including budgets, medications and patients. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez)
Army Staff Sgt. Valerie Garvin, an animal care specialist with the Public Health Command District, budgets the veterinary treatment facility income at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 20, 2016. As an animal care specialist, she manages everything in the facility, including budgets, medications and patients. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Valerie Garvin, Public Health Command District animal care specialist, budgets the Veterinary Treatment Facility income at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 20, 2016. As an animal care specialist, she manages and files everything in the facility including budgets, medications and patients. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez)
Caretakers of Andrews’ furry Warriors
Army Staff Sgt. Valerie Garvin, an animal care specialist with the Public Health Command District, budgets the veterinary treatment facility income at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 20, 2016. As an animal care specialist, she manages everything in the facility, including budgets, medications and patients. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez
Photo By: Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez
VIRIN: 161220-F-AG923-0005

This girl is now Army Staff Sgt. Valerie Garvin, an animal care specialist with the Public Health Command District at the veterinary treatment facility here. She works in a field available only to soldiers.

“I had always dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, but didn’t know the military had animal care specialists until I started looking into the armed forces,” Garvin said. “Once I knew this job was along the lines of my future goal, I tried my hardest to work with my recruiter to obtain it.”

Some of the duties she has consist of checking in animals for appointments, taking vitals, running lab tests, restraining animals and assisting the veterinarian.

The primary mission of the JBA veterinary clinic is to provide complete veterinary care for all government-owned animals, such as military working dogs. This clinic is especially busy because it services one of the largest MWD units in the military, holding 30 to 40 dogs.

Working Dogs and Pets

The clinic not only provides care for government-owned animals, but also veterinary care for service member’s pets.

U.S. Army Capt. Brittany Beavis, Public Health Command District veterinarian, gives a physical exam to a dog at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 13, 2016. The JBA veterinary clinic provides veterinary care for military working dogs and base members’ pets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez)
Army Capt. Brittany Beavis, Public Health Command District veterinarian, gives a physical exam to a dog at the veterinary treatment facility at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 13, 2016. The veterinary clinic provides care for military working dogs and service members’ pets. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez
U.S. Army Capt. Brittany Beavis, Public Health Command District veterinarian, gives a physical exam to a dog at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 13, 2016. The JBA veterinary clinic provides veterinary care for military working dogs and base members’ pets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez)
Caretakers of Andrews’ furry Warriors
Army Capt. Brittany Beavis, Public Health Command District veterinarian, gives a physical exam to a dog at the veterinary treatment facility at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 13, 2016. The veterinary clinic provides care for military working dogs and service members’ pets. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez
Photo By: Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez
VIRIN: 161213-F-AG923-0003

“Many people don’t know that we exist on this base, but the base clinic is an option JBA residents can utilize,” said Army Maj. Laura Anderson, Public Health Command District veterinarian.

“We offer general care for members’ pets, such as check-ups, blood work and medications,” Anderson said. “The animal care specialists are the first people our clients see. They are in charge of keeping the clinic functioning and I appreciate their assistance. Staff Sgt. Garvin is one of the best animal care specialists I’ve worked with because she’s very good technically and at making sure tasks are accomplished in the clinic.”

Garvin has served in this field for 19 years and has gained experience with many types of animals, to include puppies, primates and tigers.

“This career isn’t all puppies and rainbows,” she said. “My day can consist of urine, feces, scratches and bites. The job can be demanding and challenging, but can also be very rewarding. Whenever I help a pet that is sick, the owner becomes so grateful for the care provided. My favorite part of my job is interacting with my clients.”