Army veterinary chief to receive top WSU alumni award

By Brian Clark, University Communications

Poppe-80PULLMAN, Wash. – Brig. Gen. John L. Poppe, chief of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, will receive the 2015 Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award, Washington State University’s highest alumni honor.

A reception will begin at 3:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, in the Animal Disease Biotech Facility, Room 1002, on the Pullman campus, with the award presentation and lecture to follow. Poppe’s talk will be, “From the Dairy Farm to the Pentagon.” To RSVP, visit

“As Chief of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps with oversight of Veterinary Services throughout the Department of Defense, you have provided animal health, food protection, and support of research and development activities worldwide,” wrote the late WSU President Elson S. Floyd in a letter congratulating Poppe on the award. “Your leadership and many contributions have enhanced the lives of millions of people and the readiness of those who bravely defend our country.”

Corps provides most WSU vet scholarships

Brig. Gen. John L. Poppe, chief of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps.

Poppe graduated cum laude from WSU with a bachelor of science in animal sciences in 1981 and cum laude from the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) in 1986. He practiced in Seattle as an associate in a small animal practice prior to entering the Army as a first lieutenant in 1987. He has served in positions of increasing responsibility, culminating with promotion to one of only 15 brigadier generals since the inception of the veterinary corps in 1916.

The veterinary service has more than 3,000 employees worldwide and employs 25 veterinarians who graduated from the WSU CVM. The corps is the single largest employer of WSU CVM graduates, as well as the largest provider of scholarships to WSU vet students.

Animal care, food safety

Poppe leads an organization that provides care for more than 4,000 military working dogs, as well as Navy marine animals, military mascots, ceremonial and working horses, installation wildlife and the privately owned pets of service members.

Poppe during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He is also responsible for the food protection program — one of the largest in the world — with 2,000 approved food procurement sources in over 80 countries.

The veterinary corps also supports Department of Defense research at facilities around the world.

Poppe has personally commanded an airborne veterinary detachment that saw deployment during Operation Iraqi Freedom, supported Operation Provide Comfort in northern Iraq and reestablished the rabies diagnostic lab in Grenada. He and those under his command have supported numerous other international military engagements.

Deputy chief of medical command

In addition to chief of the veterinary corps, Poppe serves as deputy chief of staff for public health of the U.S. Army Medical Command, where he oversees the enterprise encompassing human, environmental and animal health. This is the first time a veterinarian has held this position, which supports more than 150,000 people in Army medicine and the nearly 4,000,000 Army medicine beneficiaries.

For over 10 years, Poppe has returned to WSU at least once a year as a guest speaker in the CVM international veterinary medicine course.

He continues a long WSU history of military vets, including the most decorated Army veterinary corps officer, Capt. Clayton Mickelson (’39), and the first female veterinary corps officer, Lt. Thais deTienne (’38).

About the award

Since 1962, the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award has been given to an alumus/a who has made significant contributions to society and, through his or her accomplishments, has brought attention to the quality of a WSU education.

Previous winners include broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, author Sherman Alexie, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, cartoonist Gary Larson, astronaut John Fabian, sports broadcaster Keith Jackson and wheat researcher Orville Vogel. Poppe is the award’s 46th recipient.

For more on the award, see


Ana Burton, WSU Foundation-University Events, 509-335-5249,