One who grasped the opportunity presented by the national defence force’s Military Skills Development (MSD) system and came out on top is veterinarian Connie Swanepoel.
Nine years ago she volunteered for military service and was one of the few of thousands of applicants who made the cut.
With basic military training (BMT) completed, Swanepoel found doors opening to follow her passion for medicine and love of animals, according to the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
Using the tertiary education opportunities on offer to SANDF personnel, the now 28-year-old applied for and was given the opportunity to study veterinary science. Six years of dedicated academic and practical work was aptly rewarded when Swanepoel, at that time a candidate officer, graduated in January this year.
The SANDF has it she is currently the lone “MSD product” working as a full-time veterinary officer in the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS).
Based at SAMHS Veterinary Institute in Potchefstroom, Swanepoel broadly sees her work as providing medical care to all animals on deployment as well as those in reserve and training.
This includes dogs deployed as well as horses utilised by the SAASIC (SA Army Specialist Infantry Capability) and wildlife on SANDF properties.
“I provide expert advice on anything related to animals; from wildlife to pigs, birds, horses, production animals, companion animals, fish, poultry and everything in between,” she is reported as saying.