Archive for May, 2009
5/27/2009 – JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Trained in explosives detection, narcotics detection and more, military working dogs here are now assisting in a different type of fight: the fight to rehabilitate patients at the Air Force Theater Hospital.
Members of the AFTH medical staff here held the first session of the K-9 Visitation Program, May 15, a program that works to further patient recovery after injury or illness through animal-assisted therapy.
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Spc. Than Kywe, an Air Force Theater Hospital patient, shares a laugh with Cezar, a 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group explosives-detection military working dog, during the first session of the K-9 Visitation Program here May 15. The program works to further patient recovery after injury or illness through animal-assisted therapy. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala)
The “pet project” of Staff Sgt. Janice Shipman, 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group intensive care unit aerospace medical technician, the program brings members of the 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group’s K-9 unit and the medical staff together with one goal in mind: patient recovery.
“We are working together to make (the patients) feel good about themselves and about healing,” said Sergeant Shipman, who is deployed here from Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Staff Sgt. Charles Busha, 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group K-9 handler, introduces his narcotics detector dog, Golf, to patients at the Air Force Theater Hospital here May 15 as part of the newly created K-9 Visitation Program. Sergeant Busha and Golf are deployed from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., and the sergeant is a native of Lake Jackson, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala)
“From my experience, with their injuries, (patients) focus on that so much that just being able to have a distraction even for a little bit helps them heal,” continued the Phenix City, Ala., native. “Seeing brings us good memories, touching brings up good memories as well. If (patients) feel good about themselves and their environment, they can say, ‘hey, I’m included with this’ and they are not just thinking, ‘I’m a patient in a bed.’ It’s therapeutic.”
An AFTH patient, Army Staff Sgt. Vannell Baerrien said his experience with the K-9s has made a difference in his healing process.
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Staff Sgt. Kristen Smith, 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group K-9 handler, and her explosives-detection military working dog, Cezar, put on a demonstration for patients at the Air Force Theater Hospital here May 15 as part of the newly created K-9 Visitation Program. The program works to further patient recovery after injury or illness through animal-assisted therapy. Sergeant Smith and Cezar are deployed here from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., and the sergeant is a native of Johnstown, Pa. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala)
“Being here with the dog has helped me relax a lot more,” he said. “It has helped me to be able to take a deep breath and exhale so to speak. This has been a wonderful and welcomed event.”
Army Sgt. Marc Dowd, also a wounded warrior at the AFTH, shared common feelings regarding the K-9 Visitation Program: “(The program) gave me a chance to get out. Being able to get out here, especially with a working dog, is a great environment to be in. It helped me out. It made me forget about the pain just to have the dog around. It was really nice.”
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Staff Sgt. Janice Shipman, 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group intensive care unit aerospace medical technician, explains to Air Force Theater Hospital patients here the purpose of the K-9 Visitation Program May 15. The program works to further patient recovery after injury or illness through animal-assisted therapy. Sergeant Shipman is deployed here from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., and is a Phenix City, Ala., native. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala)
The use of animals for therapeutic purposes goes as far back as 1699 when the English philosopher John Locke suggested the importance of children interacting with animals. The U.S. military began pushing for the use of therapy dogs in 1919 after success with World War I Soldiers.
Today, therapy dogs fall under the category of animal assisted therapy. While MWDs here are not specifically trained as therapy dogs, the program here serves to augment their given military duties as explosives-detection and narcotic s-detection dogs, in addition to serving as therapy to wounded servicemembers.
Overall, the program gives K-9 handlers a great chance to train their dogs to work closely with others besides the handlers, said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Throgmorton, 332nd ESFG kennel-master.
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Cezar, 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group explosives-detection military working dog, enjoys having his ears scratched as he sits at the feet of an Air Force Theater Hospital patient here. Cezar was one of two MWDs that participated in the newly created K-9 Visitation Program at the AFTH. The program works to further patient recovery after injury or illness through animal-assisted therapy. Patients are able to interact with the K-9s and their handlers twice a month. Cezar is deployed here from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala)
“These are military working dogs; when they are on duty on-base, we generally do not let people pet them,” said Sergeant Throgmorton, who is deployed here from Hill AFB, Utah. “However, we have a unique mission here. Our dogs are working with non-K-9 handlers in close quarters of vehicles off-base and need to become comfortable around others.”
The program has done just that for Staff Sgt. Kristen Smith, 332nd ESFG K-9 handler, and her explosives detection MWD, Cezar.
“Whenever you’re training the dog around Coalition forces, you want to make sure he’s not aggressing on people you don’t want him to aggress on,” Sergeant Smith said. “This (program) furthers that training because when we are riding in HMMWVs and we are out patrolling, we try to train them (MWD) on how they are going to act around Coalition forces so they’re only going to do (aggress someone) whenever he (MWD) feels threatened, his handler is threatened or when given the actual command.”
Sergeant Smith and Cezar were one of two K-9 teams to participate in the initial session of the program. The other was Staff Sgt. Charles Busha, and his narcotics detector dog, Golf, deployed herefrom Fairchild AFB, Wash., and a native of Lake Jackson, Texas.
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Staff Sgt. Kristen Smith, 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group K-9 handler, gives verbal positive reinforcement to her explosives-detection military working dog, Cezar, for his conduct during his participation in the K-9 Visitation Program at the Air Force Theater Hospital here May 15. The newly created program allows AFTH patients to interact with K-9s to help further their recovery after injury or illness as a form of animal-assisted therapy. The program also furthers the MWD’s training, as they work in close proximity with Coalition forces here during their day-to-day mission. Sergeant Smith and Cezar are deployed here from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., and the sergeant is a native of Johnstown, Pa. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala)
Scheduled to be held at the AFTH twice a month at a minimum depending on the K-9 unit’s operations tempo, the visitation program will be available to other 332nd ESFG K-9 handlers and their MWDs. Sergeant Smith said she was happy to have participated in the first session and hopes to continue participating.
“If the patients want to see Cezar, I will bring him over,” she said, who is deployed here from McGuire AFB, N.J. “I think this is a really good program. It furthers our training and helps the patients.
Furthermore, the native of Johnstown, Pa., said participating in this program has helped her see the fruits of their training.
“(Being a part of this program) boosted my confidence that the training we are doing is paying off,” she said. “Cezar is already good around people, but any additional training is always good for the dog.
“(Cezar) is an explosives detection dog; we’re always conducting training to make sure he recognizes all odors so when you’re out patrolling, he can pick up an odor from far away and he’ll respond to it to let you know and to let fellow Soldiers know that there’s something out there,” she added. “They are all well-trained animals and as long as their handler’s around and they ask the handler’s permission, they are approachable and their purpose can be that of a therapy dog as well.”
In addition to helping patients in their recovery process and the K-9s in their training, Sergeant Shipman said she hopes the program will serve yet another purpose: educate both the medical staff and the security forces members about each other’s missions. Following patient interaction with the K-9s, the medical staff is able to view a K-9 demonstration, showcasing some of their (MWD) daily training.
“I hope this will give people a new understanding about what the K-9 unit does and help in bringing us together,” she said. “The K-9 unit will see what we do as a medical staff, and us as a medical staff will see what they do. They save lives just like we do. We will work together with the common goal to heal our patients.”
Touching video here of a funeral for a Las Vegas Metro Police Dog named Ben.
by Veronica Slaght/For The Star-Ledger
Monday May 18, 2009, 8:58 PM
When students in Evelyn Van Nuys’ seventh grade history class were studying the Vietnam War, they learned that thousands of dogs served in the military, attacking enemy soldiers and sniffing out explosives. They also learned that many of these “war dogs” were abandoned and forgotten after the war.
The J.P. Case Middle School students decided the heroic canines and their handlers should be remembered, so they joined with their teacher to create a memorial at the Raritan Township school.
Veronica Slaght/For The Star-Ledger
Students at the J.P. Case Middle School in Raritan
Township decided a memorial to the dogs lost in the Vietnam War.
The memorial to war dogs and their handlers was dedicated at a ceremony this afternoon.
The black granite slab was donated by Rich Kulinski, and the students raised $4,000 to have it etched. It bears a Terry Waldron sketch of a war dog named “Fluffy” and his handler, and a poem called “The Soldier Dog,” written by Vietnam veteran Joe Ferrara. It also lists the nine New Jersey military dog handlers who were killed in action in Vietnam.
Today’s event drew local veterans’ organizations, politicians and members of the public to honor “courage at both ends of the leash.” Veterans’ organizations included Hunterdon County Bulldogs Chapter 957, Military Order of Purple Hearts Chapter 27, Vietnam Vets of America Chapter 452 and American Legion Post 159.
The attendees were joined by about 500 students.
During the ceremony, students and veterans placed flowers in front of the memorial for the dog handlers who died in Vietnam. The program also featured a student choir singing “Where Have All The Flowers Gone,” Lebanon Mayor Mark Paradis and Dan Schultz performing Echo Taps, and Rose Holden singing “America the Beautiful.”
According to Van Nuys, dogs were considered military equipment and left in Vietnam at the end of the war. The Gifted and Talented and seventh grade students attended a special assembly featuring veterans in the community and John C. Burnam, military dog handler and founder of the National War Dog Memorial in Washington D.C.
Veronica Slaght/For The Star-Ledger
Senior airman Rodreques Boyd, from McGuire Airforce Base, with Cici, a German shepherd who has been to Iraq twice. The two have been training together and will start their first joint tour of in September.
In addition to inspiring her students to honor war dogs, Van Nuys also inspired Flemington resident J.T. Gabriel. Gabriel formed the nonprofit organization K9 Soldiers to collect and donate necessary goods to the K9 teams at Fort Drum, Lakehurst Naval Air Station, McGuire Air Force Base and Bolling Air Force Base.
To make a donation to K9 Soldiers call at (908) 284-0284 or visit k9soldiers.org.
Gabriel also arranged to have representatives from these bases attend the dedication, which was performed with full military honors.
Senior airman Rodreques Boyd came to the event from McGuire Airforce Base with Cici, a German shepherd who has been to Iraq twice. The two have been training together and will start their first joint tour of duty in September. Boyd, originally from Atlanta, said he thought the memorial was “awesome.”
Peter Abramchak, who goes by “Pittstown Pete,” said he is glad the school did this. Abramchak served in Vietnam and is a member of the Marine Corps League. He said some military dogs are trained to attack, while others are used to sniff out bombs.
“The dogs deserve to be remembered,” he said.
Raising awareness about K9 units in the military oversea and collecting donations for soldiers and their animal co-workers has earned two Jackson teens the Girl Scout Gold Award.
“I chose this project to help the dogs and give back to the soldiers for protecting our country,” said Eliana Lisuzzo, a junior at Jackson Liberty High School. “The most successful aspect of our project would probably be working with the Girl Scout troops, they put a lot of hard work into the letters, drawings and bandanas [we sent to the soldiers and their dogs] and they turned out great.”
The girls held a collection drive for supplies for the dogs and soldiers overseas in addition to educating the community about the work military dogs do.
“We want to help the dogs and soldiers because they do so much to protect America,” said Rebecca Weigand, also a junior at Jackson Liberty High School.
Lisuzzo and Weigand are two of more than 60 girls from Monmouth and Ocean counties who have already earned a Gold Award this year from the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore. The Gold Award is the highest achievement available to a teen Girl Scout. The program is designed to help girls, ages 14-18, create a foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship.
Although it’s called an award, the Gold Award is earned, not given, and it isn’t easily achieved. Each recipient must spend at least 65 hours completing a project that combines organizational, leadership and networking skills with community service. The girl must feel passionate about the project in thought, deed and action. The project should also have an impact in the girl’s community that ideally will continue even after her involvement ends.
09 May 2009
Corporal Andy Moan is to be reunited with his loved ones in Sunderland after completing a tour of duty in Basra.
The RAF police dog handler served with the Theatre Military Dog Support Unit on patrol at the province’s international airport playing a vital security role during the hostilities.
Risking attack by rocket-propelled grenades and Improvised Explosive Devices, the team use their canine counterparts’ razor sharp senses to protect personnel and vital equipment from criminal and terrorist threats.
But last month marked the official end of the six-year British mission in the country and now the 22-year-old, who has also served on operations in Afghanistan, is preparing to join the thousands of troops returning home.
“My duties have included working as a police dog handler, as well as other wider duties involved with the policing of military operations on a civilian airfield,” said Cpl Moan.
“Working closely with my dog, our aim has been to detect and deter any intruders and to provide military working dog support to ongoing transition operations.”
The former Farringdon Community School pupil, who joined the RAF in 2002, is looking forward to flying home and seeing his family, including mum Lynne and dad Colin, and girlfriend Michelle.
“I love you all and will see you soon,” said Cpl Moan. “I’m also looking forward to having home-cooked meals and a few beers with my friends. I’ll see you all when I get back.
“I also want to thank the people of the UK for all their support for the armed forces.”
The Echo is providing returning servicemen and women with the chance to let their friends and loved ones know they are back safe and sound.
We will print messages for free in the Echo, making sure that people are aware they have returned from active service.
The Echo will also publish messages from personnel in the conflict zones.
Anyone wishing to take part should send their messages to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Generous businesses are continuing to back the campaign.
Shops, restaurants and visitor attractions across the North East are supporting our drive to offer service personnel discounts on a range of services and products.
Any businesses that wish to take part in the scheme, and be featured in the Echo, should send a brief outline of their business and proposed offers with contact details to james.johnston
To qualify for the Honour Our Brave offers, service personnel have to show their official ID cards at participating businesses.