By Staff Sgt. Todd Phipps
1st Sqdrn., 89th Cav. Regt., 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)
BAGHDAD – Since the fall of the Saddam Hussein’s regime, farmers’ access to veterinary care has been nearly non-existent; however, coalition troops are working to change the lack of veterinary care.
Residents of Abu Sheikan and Abu Hillan, dependent upon livestock as part of their livelihood, welcomed a veterinary assistance visit from Lt. Col. Neil Ahle, the 1st Cavalry Division’s veterinarian, and a joint C Troop, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and an Iraqi National Police (NP) patrol.
The VETCAP, dubbed Operation Green Acres, kicked-off in the early afternoon at the El Thawan Primary School. Both U.S. Soldiers and NPs assisted with all aspects of the process short of actually completing the examinations.
After an announcement in the area, a total of twenty five farmers arrived throughout the three-hour duration of the examinations. They brought a number of animals, ranging from single cows to herds of sheep.
The VETCAP was a welcomed event since farmers usually had to transport sick animals to Baghdad, which is at least a 45-minute drive.
After conducting examinations, Ahle dewormed 153 sheep and 16 cows. He also diagnosed several other injuries, including a cyst build-up on a cow’s shoulder and a parasitic infection that was causing a cow to lose hair on its flank.
When completed with a farmer’s livestock, Ahle talked extensively with each individual on health and care of the animals.
“Even though we were able to provide veterinary care to farmers who have not seen a vet in three years, the most important part of this event was getting the NP involved,” Ahle said of the VTCAP. “Getting the local nationals to see that they could trust the NPs was one of the important aspects of the operation.”
The VETCAP proved to be a success.
“We had a pretty good showing from the villages and it seemed like the LN were receptive to what we were trying to accomplish,” said 1st Lt. Andrew Kimes, the C Trp. platoon leader.
The 1-89 plans to conduct future VETCAPs in order to continue providing assistance to the LNs of the area.