Mobile military medical services at work in Shared Accord


US Army and SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) members joined forces offering mobile veterinary services as part of a humanitarian and civic assistance (HCA) operation during the just finished Exercise Shared Accord 13 near Bhisho in the Eastern Cape.

Shared Accord is a biennial training exercise that promotes cohesion between US and South African military forces during training designed to promote regional relationships, increase capacity and improve cross-training and interoperability.

HCA events provide health services including dental treatment, HIV screening and optometry aid. Another element of HCA is mobile veterinary services including rabies vaccinations and tick treatments, said SAMHS Captain François Van Huyssteen, a veterinarian with the Military Veterinary Institute.

Members of both militaries worked together to assist the Eastern Cape’s provincial Veterinary Services in administering medications to hundreds of animals.
“No matter where we go, we try to make sure we’re not here to receive credit for the US Army,” said US Army Lieutenant Colonel Dickie Vest, executive officer and veterinarian with the 176th Medical Brigade, 809th Medical Command from Seagoville, Texas. “We’re here to reinforce the civilian and government-run veterinary services. We’re complementing, supporting and funding programmes and procedures they have in place.”

Boy Ngcayishe walked 14 cattle from his nearby home to take advantage of the free vaccines because he said “the medicines are expensive.”

The event made expensive treatments available to Eastern Cape residents at different locations during a five-day period.
“We exceeded expectations,” said Van Huyssteen on the second day of treatment. “It’s not even 10 am and I think we are close to treating 100 animals.”

This follows a successful first day of treating 860 animals including cattle, sheep, dogs, horses, pigs and donkeys, said US Army Major Mike Adams, commander of Able Company, 82nd Civil Affairs Battalion from Fort Stewart.

Soldiers from Able Company helped with the setup, vaccine preparations and applied some of the tropical parasite treatments to keep the event running smoothly.

During Shared Accord, both militaries worked at improving veterinary skills while learning from one another and HCA’s mobile veterinary services was no exception.
“Anybody can learn from anyone,” said Van Huyssteen. “We definitely learn from each other and can contribute our expertise to these exercises.”