The greatest way someone can serve their country is by using their natural talents and passions to make a difference. Caitlin Streacker ’15 has combined her love of working with animals with her sense of duty to her country to make an impact by serving in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps in the Army Medical Department. Entering the military through the Health-Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP), a highly competitive scholarship opportunity, she is currently pursuing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree and Masters of Public Health with a specialization in veterinary public health (MPH-VPH), as well as completing military training. She will be promoted to Captain upon graduating in 2021.
“It is a great honor to be able to serve your country,” Streacker says. “You feel a special sense of pride and purpose every time you put your uniform on.”
Streacker knew that she wanted to be a veterinarian since the age of six, but it wasn’t until she entered her masters coursework that she began to realize that she could use both her masters and veterinary degree to serve her country. Having grandfathers who served in World War II, she had a respect for those who serve in the military, and it was her grandfather’s passion for his service and the legacy he left that inspired her path.
Army veterinarians work domestically and abroad to provide care for all privately owned animals that live on base, provide care for military working dogs and military owned horses, and train K9 handlers how to respond to their canine’s medical emergencies. By earning both a DVM and a MPH-VPH, Streacker is qualified to work on a variety of public health and military concerns in addition to animal health, including food safety inspections, biosecurity, and response planning for foreign animal diseases. Long term, she would like to become board certified in the American College of Veterinary Preventative Medicine (ACVPM) during her military service and be able to use that specialty to further protect our military’s food supply and support zoonotic disease control.
The coursework taken at Findlay helped prepare Streacker to excel in veterinary school, which helped lead to the Army offering her the HPSP. Double majoring in biology and animal science, courses like immunology, physiology and animal processing gave her the knowledge and experience needed for veterinary school. “Having the food animal and equine handling courses your first year at Findlay makes you comfortable working with these animals in vet school,” said Streacker. “Not everyone in vet school has seen a cow or horse before, and handling them while trying to give an injection or get a sample of blood can be intimidating for those without experience handling these animals,” she noted. She wasn’t the only Findlay student prepared for veterinary school. She currently attends The Ohio State University in the same class as 10 of her fellow Findlay graduates.
Determination has always been in Streacker’s nature. Despite the rigor of her academic schedule, she took on leadership roles and completed undergraduate research during her time at Findlay. “I chose Findlay for its high success rate of students being accepted to veterinary schools,” said Streacker, “but my most memorable college moment was presenting my research at the American Society of Animal Science Conference.” Under the guidance of Brian Whitaker, Ph.D., assistant professor of animal and pre-veterinary studies, Streacker designed and executed animal science research which she presented at national and regional conferences and locally at Findlay. An article about her research was also published in the Ohio Journal of Science.
With the knowledge gained from Findlay, veterinary school and the military, Streacker is ready to make a difference. “The military is unique because you don’t always get to choose where you are going or what you will be doing,” she said, “but my goal in the military is to be ready and prepared to do whatever is asked of me.” Citizens like Streacker who are able to use their talents to help protect our country are a reminder of what hard work and dedication can accomplish.