Fort Carson, Colo. — Soldiers with the Fort Carson Veterinary Center put their skills to good use as they patched up stuffed animals in need of a little tender loving care at the Joel Hefley Community Center.
Held in April, this was the fourth annual Teddy Bear Clinic where military children and families brought in about 30 stuffed animals to be repaired.
The clinic provides hands-on training for the veterinary care specialists and food inspector specialists, said Capt. Breanna Johnson, a first-year graduate veterinary education intern-Public Health Activity at Fort Carson. It gives them the opportunity to learn and improve on emergency procedures and suturing techniques.
This training prepares the soldiers for being in a deployed environment. Fort Carson is a U.S. Army installation located in El Paso County, Colorado, near the city of Colorado Springs. The Fort Carson Veterinary Treatment Facility is professionally staffed by Army Veterinary Corps personnel with the primary mission of providing complete veterinary care for all government-owned animals, but the training given here also serves another purpose.
“There will be times when a veterinarian may not be around, so the soldiers need to know how to take care of the patients,” said Spc. Cameron Jennings, the veterinarian center’s NCO in charge.
During the clinic, the animal care specialists and food inspection specialists were given a safety briefing, instructions on handling the instruments, such as using needles and forceps, and suturing patterns, Johnson said.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practicing these skills on the furry patients allows the soldiers to hone their skills.
“This is an opportunity to refresh and brush up on our skills,” Jennings said.
It’s also a time for team building.
On a daily basis, the clinic is stressful, Johnson said, so stitching up the stuffed animals gives them a chance to work together and repair the stuffed animals.
“We want the kids to be happy,” Jennings said.
They will pick up their animals and see them restored and brought back to life.
In addition to providing training and team building for the soldiers, the clinic can provide a positive experience for the children and family members.
“The kids won’t see it as scary,” Johnson said.
When the kids picked up their animals a few days later, they received goodie bags and “post-operative” recommendations, Johnson said.
It’s about community outreach, she said. Letting everyone know what the veterinary center has to offer.
And for the military children who brought their stuffed animals to the clinic, that outreach made a difference, Johnson said.
Eric Parris, Garrison Public Affairs Office, wrote this article, which was reprinted with permission.