G.I. Jessica, DVM
We would like to thank Jessica for her service to our country. We were happy to have her riding along and assisting for the three weeks of her externship. We wish her well in her future endeavors.
G.I. Jessica, D.V.M.
I am currently a 4th year veterinary student at Virginia Tech, but in my early 20s I spent 6 years in the Army as a linguist. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2002-2003 and Iraq in 2007-2008. In my late 30s, I decided I wanted to get into an entirely new career field and started vet school in 2017. During this final year of school while working with veterinarians in the field, I feel that the Army helped me prepare for this career path. There are many things that a large animal veterinarian and an Army soldier have in common!
· The vehicles are large - learn to drive them without smashing into things!
· Peeing in the woods or behind the aforementioned vehicles is often necessary, and never frowned upon.
· Be prepared to work in a variety of (unpleasant) weather conditions.
o Rain, shine, snow, extreme heat or cold – you still must get the job done, whatever it may be…
· It is rarely just a day job.
o You may get called out again after a long day right after you have showered, or you might get woken up in the middle of the night - duty calls!
· Teamwork is essential!
o Everybody knows the army is all about teamwork, but there are also plenty of jobs/procedures for which a large animal vet needs (or would like) more than one set of hands.
· Communication is crucial and listening is just as important as talking (if not more).
o For both an Army linguist and a large animal vet, you must genuinely understand what is being said to you and communicate your own information effectively.
· Awareness is key to stay out of danger!
o Large animals can be as deadly as IEDs (improvised explosive devices) - you must have your head on a swivel!
· Cardio and weightlifting are probably a good idea.
o Running after sheep/goats or working chutes can be just as taxing as a forced march wearing body army and carrying weapons.
Most of all, both career fields are fun, rewarding, and provide a source for good/funny stories for years to come!