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Texas A&M veterinarian school graduate to work with Fort Hood Calvary, animals

Don Barnett officially became a veterinarian earlier this week and was also promoted to captain in the U.S. Army.
Credit: Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune
The water tower at Texas A&M University

For most graduates, completing coursework and crossing the stage is a special moment marking the end of one's educational trajectory. For Texas A&M University student Don Barnett, graduation was just one of the achievements he recently accomplished.  

He received his degree in veterinary medicine, but he was also promoted to Captain in the U.S. Army. The new veterinarian received his commissioning pin from his sister, Maj. Coleen Barnett.

The ceremony, a virtual commencement held online, was held May 6. Barnett became Capt. Don Barnett, one of the newest veterinarians stationed at Fort Hood.

“I get to serve my country in a meaningful way that I have trained for,” Barnett said.

Barnett said his older sister Coleen, a 15-year veteran of the Air Force and an ROTC graduate of Texas State University, conducted his officer’s oath when he first decided to enter the military.

“I’ve always looked up to her, and she played a huge role in my decision to enter the Army,” Barnett said. “I thought it would be fitting if she gave me the promotion to captain from second lieutenant. She’s been in the Air Force for 15 years and now works for the Joint Staff.”

Barnett received a commission as a second lieutenant during his first year as a veterinary student. Upon graduation, he was “recommissioned” to a higher rank of captain.

Barnett said his wife Chelsea, an elementary school teacher, and their young daughter Rylee will soon get ready for military life. Once his Army career is over, he said he may move back to Goliad and become a rural veterinarian.

At Fort Hood, Barnett will treat the base’s 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment, a 40-soldier unit with 40 horses and eight mules. It is one of seven horse-mounted units in the Army, and it performs at various functions such as the Rose Bowl Parade, U.S. presidential inaugurations, professional rodeos and other events. The unit also has its own mascot, a dog named Sergeant Buddy.

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