News>Feature - Major Timmy aids regional mental health goals
Major Timmy greets service members at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, April 13, 2012. Timmy is a combat stress therapy dog with the 528th Combat and Operational Stress Control Team. He allows the COSC team to reach people who wouldn’t normally seek its services. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom)
Major Timmy poses for a photo at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, April 13, 2012. Timmy is a combat stress therapy dog with the 528th Combat and Operational Stress Control Team. He is an essential part of the COSC’s mission, allowing them to reach people who wouldn’t normally seek their help. Timmy was donated from America’s Vet Dogs and is on a two-year tour at Bagram. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom)
Major Timmy receives pats and praises while working at a promotion event at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, April 13, 2012. Timmy is a combat stress therapy dog with the 528th Combat and Operational Stress Control Team. He appears at many of the COSC’s events and visits with multiple squadrons throughout Regional Command-East. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom)
Capt. Christine Beck plays with her combat stress therapy dog, Major Timmy, at the Warfighter Restoration Center on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, April 13, 2012. Beck is Timmy’s primary handler and both are part of the 528th Combat and Operational Stress Control Team, a unit dedicated to keeping service members mentally stable while in the area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom)
Major Timmy poses for pictures at an Easter promotion event at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, April 13, 2012. Timmy is a combat stress therapy dog with the 528th Combat and Operational Stress Control Team. Timmy has been at Bagram for 22 months as a part of his two-year tour in the COSC’s mission. By allowing the familiar comfort of petting a dog, Timmy helps relieve stress to service members in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom)
by Tech. Sgt. Vernon Cunningham
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
4/21/2012 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Man's best friend does more than just fetch and roll over. Major Timmy, 528th Medical Detachment Combat and Operational Stress Control Team combat stress therapy dog, helps service members at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, have the opportunity to realize the healing effects that a dog can have on relieving tension and anxiety in a war zone.
"The act of petting a dog helps relieve stress," said Army Capt. Christine Beck, Warfighter Restoration Center officer in charge. "Service members play with him, talk to him, or just throw a ball around for a while. It's a touch from home."
Timmy is a joint service healer. He will visit any unit, from any branch of service, which requests his assistance.
"One of the big benefits of these dogs is that it gets us into the unit...a foot in the door," said Beck. "A lot of times a commander won't call for preventative COSC services, but they will call for a Timmy visit. Some people use this as an opportunity to come and talk about some of their issues or just be around Timmy. After they get comfortable, they will start talking about their deployment or home-front issues on their own. It ends up going from animal-assisted interaction to animal-assisted therapy."
Beck also takes Timmy to the United Services Organization, the Red Cross or an occasional stroll down Disney Boulevard here. Upon seeing a dog on base people gather to greet him and typically end up hearing about the services available to them through the COSC team.
"After multiple times of seeing Timmy or visiting him at the Red Cross, we run into the same people and they sometimes begin to seek help if needed," said Beck. "I had one member tell me that he wouldn't normally come within 100 meters of Combat Stress, but Major Timmy is cool. We interacted a few more times. After the third time, he started opening up. He asked a few questions as we talked.
"Sometimes they will pet Timmy and talk to Timmy without ever really looking at me," said Beck. "That is okay, because they are getting some outlet and talking to someone."
They also travel to other bases within Regional Command-East. Timmy has his own uniform and wears the unit patch of whomever he is scheduled to visit.
Timmy contributes greatly to Bagram's mental health goals through his stress-relief services and rapport-building talents. Some of his impact lies in being a bridge between service members and Bagram's COSC team at the Warfighter Restoration Center.
"Our restoration center is here at Bagram," said Beck. "It's a three-day program for service members who need rest. They may have hit that brick wall and are not coping well with being here. Maybe not sleeping or eating right. We try to pull them back before they hit that point of no return. Our center allows them to rest before they return to duty."
The Warfighter Restoration Center consists of several B-huts with classrooms and relaxation areas with games, books and refreshments. During their stay, service members also participate in class sessions where they discuss the importance of taking time for themselves, ongoing issues, concerns, etc ...
"We take referrals from commanders, chaplains, first sergeants, medical providers, etc ...," said Beck. "But, all must have command approval and the service member must volunteer to come here. They also agree to follow the rules and actively participate in the program. The date for their return to duty is explained and agreed upon."
Sometimes Timmy is a part of the classes and becomes a part of the treatment.
"Some people have actually come back to visit and play with Timmy, allowing us to check up on their progress," said Beck.
Timmy is wrapping up his two-year tour and will be returning home soon to be evaluated, rested and refocused for another possible deployment in the future.
Timmy was donated from America's Vet Dogs. America's Vet Dogs breed and train service animals to be given to disabled veterans. They also train all the dogs that are donated to the military to deploy into theater and serve the COSC mission.
4/23/2012 6:54:06 AM ET I think Major Timmy is a wonderful help for all the troops. Where will he be in the U.S. Is there a fund set up for the care of military dogs to make sure they are well cared for when they return to the states