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HOOAH...Army vet keeps Tyndall pets healthy

  • Published
  • By Major Veronica Kemeny
  • 325th Fighter Wing public Affairs
An occasional dog bite or horse bite is all in the line of duty for Tyndall's own Army veterinarian.

There are only 450 Army active-duty veterinarians to cover more than 300 installations worldwide. The Tyndall Vet Clinic is run by Army Capt. Claire Groschwitz, Officer in Charge and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

"Our main mission is to oversee the well-being of eight Military Working Dogs assigned to the base," said Captain Groschwitz. "Each dog is a $250 thousand investment for the military. My first mission is to ensure the dogs are taken care of. We are able to help the dogs with post traumatic stress disorder after dogs return from a deployment. I can provide medical therapy for the dogs such as antidepressants or work on behavioral changes if needed. Our goal is to ensure the dogs are healthy for their mission and that we can someday retire them."

The clinic also has a secondary mission of ensuring the food at the Commissary is healthy and their third mission is what most people believe is their primary mission:  seeing the pets of military members and their dependents.

"I understand it can be hard to get an appointment some days, but we do try," said Captain Groschwitz. "So patience is always appreciated here at the clinic. I am still amazed every morning when I come to work about how lucky I have been," said Capt. Groschwitz. "My staff is amazing and the clients are wonderful. We have a large retiree population that just warms my heart every day. They have the most amazing life stories and such great insight."

The clinic has more than three thousand active client records.

"Appointments are usually how we work," said Captain Groschwitz. "We have limited sick call since our mission states we focus on preventative medicine with some clinic cases to keep the vet up to date on medical advancements. I do recommend seeing an off base vet. We always recommend our clients have a good relationship with the community veterinarians, since we may not be able to offer the appropriate services here in an appropriate time frame."

Every job has its rewards, although some may not be obvious.

"The animals are awesome, but weirdly enough it is the people that make my job great," said the captain. "The vet senior leadership is fond of saying: 'We do good things for good people.' Even when it is helping a family say goodbye to a loved one, we strive to help on that day and beyond if needed. Euthanasia is always hard, but if we can ease the burden and make the last memories good ones, then we have done our part. There have been times I have felt that I am in way over my head, but life would be pretty boring without challenges."

Captain Groschwitz does have some pointers for future pet owners.

"Make sure you have the time and resources to make a lifelong commitment," said Captain Groschwitz. "Pets do not make good birthday, Christmas, or Valentine's Day gifts because it is a true commitment to good health and responsibility, not a 'keep the receipt and return after 30 days' situation. The other thing is remember your pets are animals, not small humans. They can be very intelligent, but the moment you forget where they originally came from is when people can get hurt. Respect the teeth and everything should be good to go. Of course the most important thing to remember is: vaccines and heartworm prevention are important, so don't wait!"

For more information, contact the veterinary clinic at your base.