The Message to Garcia Program will provide free wellness care and preventatives to service dogs serving military veterans
As a Navy veteran, Hoffman Animal Hospital Medical Director, Dr. Carrie Muller, has long realized the need for more and better support for the veterans who have served this country. Dr. Muller also has immense respect for service dogs having seen them in action during her military tenure and through seeing how effective support dogs are in helping veterans. Finding a way to give more to both groups was the driving force behind her decision to launch the Message to Garcia Program, which will provide free wellness care to veteran support dogs.
“There’s this hole there,” Dr. Muller said. “The cost of ensuring the health of their service dog should not be a battle our veterans are fighting.”
Hoffman Animal Hospital has served the Annapolis, Maryland region for more than 30 years, including a substantial segment of active duty and veteran clients. The Message to Garcia program will begin at Hoffman with the arrival of Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11.
The positive impact of service dogs for veterans, not just in assisted mobility but also in helping navigate mental health challenges, is well known. However, VA funding typically only assists veterans in taking care of service dogs that help with mobility. It’s a gap Dr. Muller wanted to help fill.
The Freedom to Make a Positive Change
Dr. Muller finally got a chance to put her plan into action when she joined Hoffman Animal Hospital and VetEvolve. In fact, it was one of the factors in her decision to join the practice.
“I’ve had this idea for a while, it was always about just finding a ‘yes’ to put it into action,” Dr. Muller said. “I brought this up when I was interviewing with VetEvolve. The CEO, Nick Lodestro, gave his support and said ‘let’s do it.’ His enthusiasm for something I was passionate about as a doctor and an individual was refreshing. It was one of the reasons I decided to join VetEvolve.’”
Most importantly to Dr. Muller, VetEvolve followed through. Within six months of starting at Hoffman Animal Hospital, her Message to Garcia Program is ready to start helping service dogs and the veterans who rely on them.
“I just really appreciated the flexibility and the strong alignment of values VetEvolve provided,” Dr. Muller said. “(VetEvolve) followed through on the commitment, they did what they said they were going to do.”
Serving our communities and working toward the greater good has always been part of VetEvolve’s mission and people-first approach to veterinary care and support. VetEvolve has always prioritized supporting veterinarians and their teams in the causes and beliefs that matter most to them. Serve is one of VetEvolve’s core values, and was showcased recently in a month-long initiative that highlighted the excellent work being done by VetEvolve team members as they gave back to their respective communities.
The Message of ‘The Message’
Finding a name for the program was easy for Dr. Muller. Long a staple of military professional reading lists, ‘A Message to Garcia’ is considered a seminal text for young military officers and NCOs. The story relates the tale of an individual tasked with delivering a message just before the Spanish-American War. The American soldier travels far, and hard, to deliver the message despite never knowing what it contained, what it was for, or asking why; He only knew it was critical and the task fell to him.
It’s a story that recognizes perseverance, dedication, loyalty, and the integrity that comes with finishing your assignment.
“It’s about never giving up. If you have a job to do, you need to go do it,” Dr. Muller said. “We’re not going to let you down. We have your back.”
The message of that story and Dr. Muller’s program aligns seamlessly with VetEvolve’s goals, values, and culture. VetEvolve was founded by a pair of former Marines, whose mission-first mindset and strong belief in taking care of others is what drew them to veterinary practice ownership. As an organization, VetEvolve is proud to support such initiatives and the people who push them forward.
“Message to Garcia is all about taking the ball and running with it. Be bold, be decisive, and solve the problem,” Lodestro said. “That’s exactly what Dr. Muller did.”
VetEvolve Supports its People and What Matters to Them
At VetEvolve, we believe serving others is at the heart of our mission. That’s why we are dedicated to supporting the well-being of veterinarians, staff, and the communities they call home. When our people feel empowered both inside and outside of the workplace, they can consistently deliver the highest quality of care to pets, animals, and all those they serve.
Whether you’re a veterinarian looking for a new opportunity or a practice owner seeking a partnership to support your business and its growth, VetEvolve has the network, people, and resources to help you find your ‘Happy Here’ destination.