Herald/CATRINA RAWSON - Capt. Stacie Kervin, a chaplain with the 85th Medical Detachment, 1st Medical Brigade, holds her son, Evan Kervin, 4, as her husband, Michael Kervin, looks on as they get their photo taken by family members during her deployment ceremony with fellow soldiers Thursday at Fort Hood.

By Alicia Lacy

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD - While deployed soldiers focus on completing their missions, soldiers with the 1st Medical Brigade's 85th Medical Detachment, a combat stress control unit, have the mission of providing mental health and stress relief to soldiers coping with the stresses involved with deployments.

The brigade held a farewell ceremony Thursday for about 25 soldiers who are set to deploy Saturday to Iraq for a year.

Known as the "Stress Busters," the soldiers' mission in Iraq is to help other soldiers deal with stress using therapy dogs to help soldiers open up and begin talking.

As the drawdown continues in Iraq, the stresses soldiers deal with continue, and the use of the dogs should help the detachment help the soldiers complete their mission.

Capt. David Dougherty, a handler with the detachment, said the detachment will bring dogs to the soldiers and their units.

The dogs will don a patch of the unit so it's a part of the unit.

"Soldiers love to see something that reminds them of home," he said.

Dougherty said the soldiers can pet the dogs, which helps them relax and sets the atmosphere for them to open up about any challenges.

Occupational therapists, social workers, psychiatrists and psychologists are deploying to meet the need.

Staff Sgt. Darius Cox used the therapy dogs on a previous mission and witnessed how the therapy worked firsthand.

Cox said the dogs go to the most stressed person and put its paw

on that person.

"It's an icebreaker," he said.

The dogs are bred, trained and donated to the Army by America's VetDogs: The Veteran's K-9 Corps, information from the brigade states.

America's VetDogs, which was created by the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, also provides guide dogs and service dogs for wounded veterans.

Contact Alicia Lacy at alacy@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.

Read more in next week's Fort Hood Herald.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.