by Steve Pivnick, 81st Medical Group Public Affairs
- KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. – Army veterinarian Lt. Col. (Dr.) Joseph Harre, chief of veterinary resources with the 81st Medical Support Squadron’s Clinical Research Laboratory, was a member of a joint service team that traveled to Estonia to teach at the Estonian National Defense College in Tartu.
The visit was in support of a Defense Institute for Medical Operations program. DIMO, located at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, is a joint Air Force-Navy funded operation that provides U.S. military medical and veterinary teams the opportunity to train international military medical personnel around the world.
“DIMO had asked for veterinarians to volunteer right after I arrived here in June 2011. About 10 members of the (Army) Veterinary Corps volunteered and this was the first mission I was selected for. I was chosen to oversee and support the live-tissue training portion of the Surgical Trauma Response Techniques course.”
He actually traveled to the Baltic country twice, in February and May.
“The European Command required the course training sites and source of animals be inspected and approved by a DOD veterinarian before the DIMO training in Tartu, Estonia, scheduled for May, would be approved. So I traveled there Feb. 23-29 to complete site visits of the Estonian National Defence College, University of Life Sciences and Institute of Veterinary Medicine training facilities and the swine farm that was to provide animals for the course.”
He returned to Tartu as a member of a six-person team that conducted the May 25-June 2 trauma surgery training program. In addition to Harre, the team was comprised of two Air Force and two Navy surgeons and an Army enlisted veterinary technician.
Harre said, “The class included 19 Estonian Army medical professionals, mainly reservists. There were seven surgeons plus other physicians, surgical residents and nurses. Our instructors were very impressed with the Estonians’ medical skills and facilities. I was told that this isn’t always the case in some of the other nations the program has supported. We visited several Estonian medical facilities and found them to be very modern.”
Harre added that there are two U.S. military members actually assigned to the Estonian National Defence College as instructors.
The course is already paying dividends, Harre commented.
“We received an e-mail (from DIMO) stating that what we taught has already been put to good use. One of our students performed an emergency procedure on a patient with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. The surgeon gave us credit for teaching him the technique.”
Commenting on his participation, he noted, “Back when I was an enlisted member, I was told to never volunteer for anything. However, I have found that those opportunities I have volunteered for have turned out to be some of the best things I’ve done in the military.”