Zack the combat therapy dog is boosting morale for a local soldier in Iraq
Thu, 19 May 2011 23:17:59 GMT —
Saturday is Armed Services Day.
In honor of this day, NBC25 brings you the story of a special officer who's working to boost morale for one Mid-Michigan soldier fighting overseas.
He TMs about two feet high, walks on all fours and loves a good scratch behind the ear.
Sergeant First Class Zack is a 17 month old Labrador Golden Retriever mix, but he's also a ranking officer in the army.
He actually gives you that split second break that you need to kind of change your thought process, you know to kind of smile and to feel better for the day, said Staff Sgt. Holly Torsch, a native of Howell, MI.
Zack is part of the 98th Combat Stress Control Detachment, helping soldiers in Iraq get through their deployment.
It takes your mind off of being in a war zone and being in Iraq and away from your family, it kind of lets you play and relax a little bit, said Staff Sgt. Torsch.
Staff Sergeant Torsch is part of the 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command stationed at the Joint Base Balad in Iraq.
Torsch says she invited Zack and his handler, Sergeant Brian Christman to boost morale.
Everyone's mood was a lot different that day; we were all a lot happier, said Staff Sgt. Torsch.
I want people to understand that we are here for them, and we will work as hard as we need to, to do whatever they need, said Sgt. Brian Christman who is an Occupational Therapy Assistant.
He says Zack brings awareness to all the programs the team provides.
The combat stress classes, anger management, stress management, from tobacco cessation to warrior resiliency training, basically what we do is provide soldiers with the tools through classes or prevention to help them get through their deployments, and help them get through the things they deal with here, said Sgt. Brian Christman.
Zack's playful demeanor and big puppy eyes make it easier for Sgt. Christman to talk to soldiers about behavioral and mental health issues.
I think it TMs wonderful. I think a lot of people need that over here. We have a lot of people that are first time deployed, so they are missing newborns, they are missing births; they are missing their family and their regular routine that they have, said Staff Sgt. Torsch.
With a simple pet, Zack brings a piece of home and a smile to our nation's heroes.
Sgt. Stephen Scott with the 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, and SPC Aimee Fujikawa contributed to this article.