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CSU helping military's Green Berets with training

December 3, 2012

One of the U.S. military's most elite groups is looking to Colorado State University's nationally ranked Veterinary Teaching Hospital to help train its medics.

The Fort Carson-based 10th Special Forces Group – a unit of the Green Berets – is sending medics to CSU’s veterinary hospital for two weeks of intensive animal care training. They’ve also spent time training at Hartshorn Health Center on campus and with CSU Athletics to learn some fundamental sports medicine techniques they can use in the field.

Highly demanding training required

The Green Beret Medical Sergeants are within the action element of the Special Forces Group known as the Operational Detachment-Alpha Team, “ODA” or “A-Team.” Each team consists of 12 Green Berets who have undergone a highly demanding physical and mental assessment, selection, and training process, said Lt. Col. Steve Osterholzer, public affairs officer for the group.

Individual soldiers receive extensive training and experience in a select specialty of weapons, engineering, medical, communications, or intelligence.  Additionally, each team is specialized to handle austere environments that might involve skills such as mountaineering, water operations and specialized parachuting or other mobility.

Medical training has historically occurred in human hospitals, but increasingly, medics face animal issues in the field. CSU is one of many partners involved in training the soldiers.

“When we’re on the continent of Africa, for example, the animals are extremely important to these small villages,” Osterholzer said. “We’ve had veterinary clinics where the medics are very important – that supports our overall relationship with the local villagers. Our guys are often working out of a mud hut somewhere where they are the nurse, the doctor, the technician and they’re not in a controlled environment.”

CSU assisting with urgent care, other training

Kory, a medic with the 10th Special Forces Group, spent some time in November training at CSUCSU veterinarians assist with training medics on urgent and ambulatory care with special attention paid to equine and livestock services.

“We are honored to build a relationship with this important program as they perform their critical National Defense mission. Our specialists are working with these soldiers so they understand on a basic level how to work with animals and recognize signs of disease in those animals,” said Hank Gardner, associate vice president for Research and a military veteran. “We are among the best in the world at training veterinarians and we want to share that knowledge to benefit our country.”

“This was a very positive experience for the VTH,” Dean Hendrickson, associate dean in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “All of the groups felt that the medics fit in very well with our team, and within hours became a valued part of the team. We look very forward to continued work with the medics and hope to have a combined program for years to come.”

Kory, the medic who is currently at CSU this semester, has spent time “working with our student-athletes in the clinical setting in order to gain a deeper understanding of orthopedic injury evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation,” said Terry DeZeeuw, associate athletics director for Sports Performance at CSU. “There is a significant overlap in the type of injuries the Special Forces sustain compared to Division I athletes. Kory is able to evaluate, treat and observe the management of a broad range of injuries to help him better manage injuries sustained in the field.”

Learning triage with Hartshorn

He has also spent time at Hartshorn, working with physicians in triage who see students who walk in without appointments. After obtaining the student's permission, he has worked with the physician to obtain student history and complete a physical exam under supervision. He works with the physician to determine the diagnosis and plan, said Laurie Elwyn, medical director of the CSU Health Network.

The Fort Carson 10th Special Forces Group was formed in 1952 as the nation’s first Special Forces unit and is one of five active-duty Special Forces Groups and two National Guard Groups under the command of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Each Special Forces Group is regionally oriented and focused on languages, cultures, and environments within those regions.

Contact: Emily Wilmsen
Phone: (970) 491-2336