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n e D r e Vip Issue 3

June 2013

Vipers complete Combatives Level 1 at KAF Early wake-up calls, extreme heat, bruises, head-locks, brutal sparring and testing did not deter our tough Vipers from successfully completing Combatives Level 1 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Watch out for PFC Elizabeth Mancha, PFC Briana Latario, SPC Elliot Stevenson, PFC Vincent Kacerguis, SPC Vikki Santiago, PFC Jeffery Cotner, and PFC Felix Lopez. What’s Next‌ Combatives Level II

Combatives Level 1


From the Archives


Pet Safety


Promotion Board and Birthdays


Really? Downrange?


Meet the College Graduates


Soldier of the Month


How to Decompress while deployed


Hunt the Good Stuff


Viper Den Addresses


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Viper Den

From the Archives: Meet the United States Army Mascots Name: Stryker and Ranger III Scientific Name: No true species name Common Name: Mule Male or Female: Males Female mules are called “Molly”. Offspring of: Equus asinus x Equus caballus or “Jack”-Donkey x “Mare”-Horse Home: West Point Military Academy, NY Donated & trained by: LTC Anne Hessinger, a fellow Veterinary Corps Officer

Photo from:

Pet Safety: Hidden dangers in your kitchen-food that will make Fluffy or Fido very sick -CPT Sarah Luciano, VSST-4

Chocolate The toxic effects of chocolate are mainly caused by the compound theobromine. The toxic dose of theobromine is 200-330 mg per pound of body weight. The average milk chocolate candy bar contains less than 100 mg of theobromine. A dark chocolate bar contains over 300 mg of theobromine. Baking chocolate, which can be found in large packages in many people’s kitchens, contains 390 mg per ounce. While the accidental Snickers bar will likely not be life-threatning, just a piece of a Baking chocolate brick can rapidly lead to toxic effects. Clinical signs seen with chocolate toxicity include tremors, anxiety, seizures, rapid pulse rate, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, and death.

Onions, garlic and chives These common human food garnishes and seasonings contain compounds that cause damage to red blood cells. The powder versions are much more concentrated than the raw forms, and only ¼ cup of onion soup mix can actually cause life-threatening anemia in cats. Clinical signs include weakness, lethargy, trouble breathing, vomiting and diarrhea. Be cautious about what you feed your dog and cat. Human baby foods often contain garlic or onion powder for flavor.

Macadamia nuts

These nuts contain an unknown compound, that when ingested by dogs, can cause vomiting, ataxia, and paralysis that will start in the rear limbs and move towards the head.

Grapes and raisins Even just a few raisins or grapes can be enough to cause toxicity in dogs and cats that can lead to kidney failure. Clinical signs usually occur within 6-12 hours of ingestion, and include anorexia, vomiting, lethargy and diarrhea. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ If you know or believe your pet may have ingested one of these foods, bring him or her to see the veterinarian immediately! If you arrive soon enough, they may be able to get your pet to vomit the toxic food to avoid the worst side effects. At a minimum, treatment will likely include IV fluids and some amount of hospitalization.

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The GIANT VOICE message: Are you ready for the Promotion Board? NCO Creed. No one is more professional than I. I am a Noncommissioned Officer, a leader of Soldiers. As a Noncommissioned Officer, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps, which is known as “The Backbone of the Army”. I am proud of the Corps of Noncommissioned Officers and will at all times conduct myself so as to bring credit upon the Corps, the Military Service and my country regardless of the situation in which I find myself. I will not use my grade or position to attain pleasure, profit, or personal safety. Competence is my watchword. My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind—the accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my Soldiers. I will strive to remain technically and tactically proficient. I am aware of my role as a Noncommissioned Officer. I will fulfill my responsibilities inherent in that role. All Soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership. I know my Soldiers and will always place their needs above my own. I will communicate consistently with my Soldiers and never leave them uninformed. I will be fair and impartial when recommending both rewards and punishment. Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties; they will not have to accomplish mine. I will earn their respect and confidence as well as that of my Soldiers. I will be loyal to those with whom I serve; seniors, peers, and subordinates alike. I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders. I will not compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, Noncommissioned Officers, leaders!

Happy Birthday US Army (238th) US Army Veterinary Corps (97th) LTC Heather Serwon LTC Claire Cornelius CPT Lauren White SGT Stephanie Denune Happy Father’s Day!

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Did you ever think you would ever see this “Down Range”? A Working Dog undergoing a Computed Tomography (CT) Scan?

The Food Safety Officer CW4 Ray placing very good sutures? First time for him!

This type of Working Dog? Or how about Endoscopy at the human Role III hospital?

Cute Working Dog Alert! Will Bite!

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Page 5 How the 218th MDVSS celebrates birthdays in Afghanistan

218th MDVSS College Graduates CPL Billy Agbavon received his Bachelor's degree in International Studies from The Evergreen State College. Special Remarks from our Graduate: “Attending a university has been one of my wishes in life since I was living in Togo. I’ve learned that without a college diploma, I wouldn’t have possibilities of a chance in life. I took the education opportunities that the Army offered me to obtain my Bachelor’s degree as a short term goal. My next goal is to pursue a graduate degree through the University of Washington. This will allow me to materialize my most-wanted future job which would be working as an advocate of human rights or a diplomat. I encourage Soldiers that are thinking about starting classes to go to the education center right now and start the education processes. This is because many schooling opportunities are open to us in the military. It would be foolish on our part not to take advantage of these free educations to study for a career without falling into debt. These are chances that other people do not have. I thank my beautiful wife for her everlasting support and my chain of command. I couldn’t have done it without their support.”

SPC Vikki Santiago received her Associate's degree in General Curriculum from University of Maryland University College. Special Remarks from our Graduate:

“I’d like to thank my family: to my parents for being courageous and brave in embarking their journey in an unfamiliar country many years ago. They’ve shown me the success that comes with stepping out of your comfort zone and never settling in complacency; to my sisters who have always showed me a great example in their own education and always pushing me when I was in doubt. And of course, I wouldn’t make it through much without the support from my loving husband. He knows how important this is to me and has always encouraged me to do my best and expects nothing less.”

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SPC Brandin VerSteegh wins Soldier of the Month for June!

SPC Brandin VerSteegh performed superbly on the 218th MDVSS Soldier of the Month Board. SPC VerSteegh recently reported to us from the Army Institute of Public Health, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland as an augmentee under the 30th MED, assigned to the 218th MDVSS. He had competed on previous boards and is promotable. In the short amount of time he has been here, he was able to prove to his NCOs that he was ready to compete and earn their recommendation for this board. He demonstrated confidence, discipline, and determination and proved himself to be the 218th MDVSS Soldier of the Month. Viper Vets!

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Hunt the Good Stuff with VSST-4: How to Decompress Down Range With the 218th just passing the three month mark of our deployment a few of you out there may be starting to feel a little stressed out or even home sick. We are starting to miss the comforts of home. To help with this we all have our own unique ways of passing the time on deployment as quickly as possible and to help relieve the day to day stress that a deployment can bring. Here are a couple of tricks that I use here at FOB Apache. The main thing I do is to set goals. I make so many goals for myself that I do not have enough hours in the day to try and achieve them all. This ensures that I am never “bored” as I hear so often. There are so many worthwhile goals to attempt and succeed at while downrange such as learning a new language (that’s more money from the Army), starting or even finishing college (way to go CPL Agbavon), training for a marathon (Camp Leatherneck), getting in the 1000 lbs club (PV2 Gasca), completing Army online training, or just anything you have ever wanted to do or learn- now is the time to do it. Another tip is go and DO something! Watching the complete series of Dexter or the Star Wars Saga does not count as DOING something, and I love Star Wars. Get out of your room and out from behind your electronic device and go DO something, anything; run, lift weights, combatives, meditate, do yoga, sword fighting, take a class on anything. To quote Nike, just DO it. No matter what you choose just remember that the force will be with you…. always. By: PFC Jeffery Cotner While there are many positive things you can do to help relax yourself after a stressful day down range; there are also negative choices you can make. It is human nature to avoid the positive choice and opt for the negative one, but you are under such close scrutiny, so watching your ‘Ps & Qs’ is something to really keep in mind. -Do not attempt to find a significant other. Companionship is something we all long for, but seriously, Afghanistan is not the time or place to do so. -Write your loved one or a family member an email or letter. Let them know how much you miss them. -Steer clear of venting on social media sites. You never know who is interested in what you have to say. -Write it in a journal or talk to a close friend outside of the unit. -Process your thoughts before they come out of your mouth. We work, live, eat, etc. around the same people day in and day out. It’s natural to get comfortable, however try to keep it professional at all times. -Again you could start a journal. Walk away when you get upset. Remember how many people are watching. -Be careful who you trust, not everyone is your friend. Of course we all get lonely and homesick, but make sure you really know that person before you start confiding in them. -Ask yourself, ‘Is this something I would tell a room full of higher ranking leaders?’ If it’s not, it’s not something you need to be telling someone you just met. -Avoid junk food. Comfort food seems to make us feel better, but is it really healthy for you? -I promise you will feel much better about yourself after a good work-out! By: PFC Alexandra Hauser I have many forms of decompressing downrange. As many of my fellow colleagues would assume, it is exercising and staying in top physical condition but that is not my primary stress reliever while being here in Afghanistan. I have found out that volunteering for different job tasks whether it is helping on a duty that is relevant to my job or something that is out of my lane is the best stress reliever. I find that helping other Soldiers whether it is giving advice or just moral support makes me feel great. Hard work and accomplishing a mission is what gives me motivation to get through each and every day. Getting praise for my hard work and being recognized for the duties I perform is what inspires me to stay motivated and leads me to push myself to the limit. Staying in great physical condition plays a huge role in this because it gives me the energy and strength I need to perform to the limit on a daily basis. By: PV2 Mario Gasca

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Page 8 How the 218th MDVSS celebrates birthdays in Afghanistan

Hunt the Good Stuff with VSST-4: How to Decompress Down Range The way I decompress while deployed is to escape to my bunk at night and first and foremost chatting with my husband and family and then reading a variety of books. Reading lets me escape into my own little world of what the novel is saying. I have read Pineapple Grenade by Tim Dorsey, The Twelve by William Gladstone, Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich and The Last Jury by John Grisham. I have read and am currently reading a book by my favorite author Eric Jerome Dickey. None of these titles have anything in common but that is the beauty of it all. By: SGT Stephanie DeNune

Running with music blasting on the treadmill has been a huge stress reliever while deployed. I was anxious at first, preferring to run outside at home. But I have gotten used to it, and it’s wonderful! I just put in my earphones, blast my music and RUN! I can spend the time thinking about work, home, or just zone out. I treasure my time on the treadmill. I also enjoy talking to family back home, reading and watching movies and TV shows that I brought with me. But mostly running is keeping me sane. By: CPT Sarah Luciano

A day in the life of Veterinary Service Support Team 4

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Hunt the Good Stuff

Ruck March? Bring it! The longer the course, the better! The Food Procurement and Laboratory Team competed in the 10K Ruck Competition Course as part of “Police Week� at Kandahar Airfield. FP&L Ruck Marchers included CPT Jennifer McNaught, SPC Lee Norris, SGT Jesse Cruz, and SPC Michelle Gilbert. Rumor has it that they are already looking for another ruck march opportunity. Way to represent, Vipers!

VSST-5 members completed the 15 mile Danish Contingent (DANCON) Ruck March at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. Members included PFC Vincent Kacerguis, SSG William Ramirez, PFC Daneilia McTaggart, SGT Geovannie Diaz, PFC Kirsten Cook, and PFC Carla Rodulfo.

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Hunt the Good Stuff

218th MDVSS KAF Team Runs the Memorial Day 5K in support of OEF Crisis Hotline

Mailing Addresses for the Viper Dens Apache:


Name (no rank)

Name (No Rank)


218 MED DET (VSS) FOB Apache APO AE 09383

218th MED DET (VSS) FOB Pasab APO AE 09370 Shindand Airbase:

Kandahar Airfield:

Name (No Rank)

Name (No Rank)

218th MED DET (VSS)



FOB Shindand


APO AE 09382

APO AE 09355

Camp Leatherneck: Name (No Rank)

218th MED DET (VSS) Camp Leatherneck FPO AE 09372

218th frg newsletter june13