By Spc. Darryl L. Montgomery

504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade public affairs

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan - You may have seen him during his brief stay here; his name is Sgt. 1st Class Zeke, and he isn't your typical noncommissioned officer; he is short, black, and gets around on four legs.

Zeke is a military working dog, though, not the kind that sniffs out bombs and contraband. Zeke's sole purpose in the military is to help relieve stress and raise the morale of soldiers serving in stressful environments.

During his stay at Spin Boldak, Zeke, along with his handler, Sgt. Paul McCollough, visited soldiers working around the base. In addition to getting to pet Zeke and play with him, the soldiers learned about his role as a therapy dog and about the programs the Combat Stress Control teams offer when it comes to dealing with tough times.

"There are a lot of dog lovers in the military," said McCollough, with the 113th Combat Stress Control, "and whenever Zeke comes around, it's almost like everyone is just not 'here' for a few minutes. It's as if they are with their dog back home and away from the stressors they have to deal with in this environment."

McCollough wants soldiers to know that going to see combat stress does not make them weak.

"There is still a huge stigma about behavioral health in the military," he said, "but, take the time and go see them. You're not weak if you feel like you need to talk to somebody."

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