Nevada practitioner pledges to focus on continuity, cooperation, and legislation
In his address to the AVMA House of Delegates, July 18, AVMA President-Elect Jack O. Walther pledged that as president, he would maintain current AVMA initiatives, strengthen communication, and further mobilize AVMA resources to deal with state legislation important to the veterinary profession.
Dr. Walther, of Lamoille, Nev., assumed the presidency at convention's end.
A 1963 graduate of the University of California-Davis, Dr. Walther served as the Nevada delegate to the AVMA for 10 years and is a former AVMA vice president. Last year in Nashville, delegates elected Dr. Walther to be the 2002-2003 president-elect.
Dr. Walther stressed the importance of continuity. His first priority, he said, is to support programs started by previous AVMA presidents, including the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, mentorship, globalization, study of the profession's diversity, gender and generational issues, and homeland security.
Dr. Walther recommended that the AVMA reestablish its membership in the Pan American Association of Veterinary Sciences, which represents the veterinary associations in Mexico and seven South American, Central American, and Caribbean nations.
"It is critical that we become involved with these nations and help supply the information and expertise they are looking for as they develop as our emerging veterinary partners," he said.
Concerning the economics of the profession, Dr. Walther said the NCVEI is "one of the most significant and beneficial endeavors in the history of veterinary medicine." State VMAs and allied groups are establishing liaisons to the commission to assist the flow of communication. Dr. Walther encouraged states not yet participating to do so.
He noted how he, AVMA Treasurer James F. Peddie, and Executive Board member Dr. David McCrystle are working with the National Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians to gain a seat in the HOD in 2004. Delegates declined the association's application for membership in 2000.
Highlighting another priority, Dr. Walther believes communication is the glue that binds the AVMA to members, staff, leaders, state and allied groups, media, and the public. As such, Dr. Walther plans to submit a recommendation to the Executive Board for the Integrated Communication Plan Task Force. The task force will evaluate the Association's communication strengths, coordinate communication abilities among stakeholders, and anticipate communication needs.
On the legislative front, Dr. Walther feels it is necessary for the AVMA to build coalitions in support of its priorities.
"Many times, the AVMA alone may not be powerful enough to move legislation through both houses (of Congress)," he said.
Efforts to change the use and treatment of livestock and laboratory and entertainment animals have made it clear that the AVMA must become more involved at the state legislature level, according to Dr. Walther. He explained that the Executive Board would consider a recommendation that authorizes two additional staff positions to assist with these challenges. (The board passed the recommendation July 23; see page 582.)
"In a short time, the AVMA can become an effective resource of information on pertinent legislation that will be quickly available to all states," Dr. Walther said. "In addition, the recommendation will establish a seven-person blue-ribbon task force to define specific goals and priorities for the AVMA's involvement in state issues."
An effective legislative program must be a partnership between the state VMAs and the AVMA, Dr. Walther continued. A national organization will never be as effective in the state legislative arena as the members of that state's veterinary community. The challenge of this task force, he added, will be to identify the responsibility of this partnership and develop an effective program to protect our entire profession from harmful legislation.
Dr. Walther concluded his speech by emphasizing the importance of cooperation. "In order to effectively deal with the challenges we face as a profession, I encourage each of the leaders sitting here this morning to help continue this spirit and join collectively to work for the protection and betterment of our profession."