For Jessica Kadyk, Class of ’23, the dream was always to be a veterinarian. “I have loved animals since I was a child and have always had a strong desire for the knowledge that would allow me to help them. I have received immense inspiration from veterinarians I worked for, driving me even more to continue my journey of becoming a veterinarian.”
Pursuing your dream sometimes comes with a cost, one Jessica was fully aware of the tuition and other financial commitments needed to pursue a DVM degree. To help keep her dream alive, Jessica enlisted in the United States Army in 2015 to help ease the financial burden of tuition while serving her country. She would depart her hometown of Mechanicsburg, Illinois for Basic Combat Training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Lee, Virginia. Initially, she served as Transportation Management Coordinator in charge of approving, planning, and overseeing movements of military equipment while maintaining accountability of sensitive items.
Two years after enlisting, Jessica made her first journey overseas to Romania for three weeks, one she recalls as an unforgettable experience. “We provided support for other U.S. military units stationed there and worked together to accomplish the mission. My home unit is the 236th Inland Cargo Transportation Company (ICTC) in Illinois,” Jessica recalled.
In 2018, Jessica volunteered to deploy to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait with the 420th Movement Control Battalion, a unit she had never met before. “I worked with the unit to process and approve all transportation movement requests for any cargo moving between Iraq and Kuwait. I also served at Al Asad Airbase, Iraq conducting escort missions, providing safety to personnel and cargo entering and leaving the base. I enjoyed being a part of a mission with so much purpose. It was fulfilling to ensure our military units received the supplies they needed. I was promoted to Sergeant and became a Squad Leader of eight Soldiers upon my return to the 236th ICTC. Being a Squad Leader taught me so much about leadership, support, and personal growth.”
While deployed in Kuwait as a Transportation Management Coordinator, Jessica knew she couldn’t fall behind on the one motivator that brought her to the Army. “I learned that the Army Veterinary Clinic on base was accepting volunteers and eagerly applied. This was an amazing opportunity to gain animal experience and lift my morale. The veterinarian I worked alongside in Kuwait, Captain (CPT) Hubbell, was a truly inspiring professional and mentor to me. I looked up to her as I assisted her with surgeries and appointments. She took the time to teach me about veterinary procedures and skills while being a busy veterinarian. When I learned what all her job entailed as the Officer in Charge (OIC), I could not believe that such an incredible career existed. Dr. Hubbell cared for the Military Working Dogs (MWDs) on base, conducted spay and neuter procedures for stray cats and dogs, had a supportive relationship with the Kuwaiti Equestrian Camp veterinarian, and traveled to several other countries providing veterinary support. I assisted her with the spay and neuter program for stray animals in Kuwait that were later put up for adoption. I was astonished by CPT Hubbell’s level of intelligence and even more inspired to pursue the rigors of veterinary school. I strive to one day be as bright and competent as her.”
For her service, Jessica has been awarded the Army Commendation Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and the Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon. Though her contract as an enlisted soldier ends in 2023, Jessica intends to re-enlist and follow in the footsteps of CPT Hubbell when she graduates from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (Ross Vet). A veterinarian can commission as a Captain, two ranks ahead of the starting officer's rank. The choice is open to being an active-duty veterinarian as a full-time job or a member of the Army Reserve with monthly weekend training and a two-week annual training, allowing the veterinarian to have a private practice.
The Army Veterinary Corps provides care to MWDs, Calvary horses, and local animals overseas. They conduct spay, neuter, and organize adoption programs to control canine and feline populations in various countries. Army veterinarians conduct humanitarian missions to eradicate diseases around the world. Aside from animal care, the Army Veterinary Corps also inspects all meat fed to Soldiers for food safety. Another assignment could include institutional training for Veterinary Care Specialists and veterinarians. Veterinary Care Specialists are army Soldier veterinary assistants.
“During my service, the relationship skills, diversity, optimism, and resilience I learned from the Army continuously help me succeed in veterinary school. I learned to be disciplined, which helps me stay focused on my studies while keeping my end goal in mind. I learned leadership, responsibility, and teamwork that I practice daily to hold myself accountable for my actions. The Army gave me experience in diversity while working with people from different cultures and countries. This has helped me form relationships with classmates while remaining respectful and open-minded. The strongest skill the Army taught me is resilience. I have been placed in many unfamiliar and unfavorable environments during enlistment. It was not always easy to stay optimistic, but a positive outlook had a significant impact on my success and the working environment. I learned to ‘hunt the good things’ which is how I found my volunteer opportunity at the Army Veterinary Clinic. The experience lifted my morale by allowing me to do something I love while being far from home. I look back on the experience when facing trials in veterinary school and am reminded of my accomplishments. This prepared me for the resiliency I practice in veterinary school when faced with a difficult class or concept. I learned to remain driven despite the challenges I encounter.”