Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld announced June 22 that Army Col. Michael B. Cates has been selected as chief of the Army Veterinary Corps.
Colonel Cates was nominated by President Bush to be promoted to brigadier general in accordance with a law championed by the AVMA requiring that the Veterinary Corps chief hold the rank of brigadier general or higher. The promotion is pending Senate approval.
Established in 1916, the veterinary corps provides veterinary services to the Department of Defense. Services include food safety, biomedical research and development, and animal medicine programs in support of force health protection and military readiness.
Restoring the general star to the veterinary corps was a priority of former AVMA president, Dr. James E. Nave, a veteran of the corps. Dr. John S. Fournier, a colonel, has served as chief of the corps since February 1999.
The corps chief, Dr. Nave explained, must be a general as a matter of equality and respect. At meetings of international military veterinarians, it was unseemly when the foreign veterinary corps leaders were generals, but the chief of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps was of a lower rank.
After the AVMA lobbied Congress for more than two years, a provision requiring that the corps' chief, at a minimum, hold the rank of brigadier general was included in the 2002 defense authorization act (see JAVMA, Jan. 1, 2003).
Colonel Cates is currently serving as commander of the 100th Medical Detachment, 30th Medical Brigade, V Corps in Heidelberg, Germany.
After graduating from Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980, Col. Cates was commissioned as a captain in the Army. He holds a master's degree in public health from the University of Texas Health Science Center and is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine.
The colonel served on the staff of Veterinary Command Headquarters, and his commands have included Tennessee Valley District Veterinary Command, Fort Campbell, Ky., and Great Plains Regional Veterinary Command, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In June 2002, he assumed command of the 100th Medical Detachment.
Colonel Cates' awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal. He also is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit.