21 June 2012

Midwest Living to Bundle Mail to 'Buckeye' Mil-dogs, Handlers

Photo: Spc. Zach Laker, Tactical Explosive Detection Dog ("TEDD") handler assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, gives a command to Sassy, his TEDD, while checking a vehicle at Forward Operating Base Griffin, Faryab province, Afghanistan, Feb. 24, 2012. Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Kimberly Lamb.

This Fourth of July, Midwest Living magazine is encouraging readers of all ages to send messages of support to a group of military dogs and handlers currently deployed to Northern Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The 2,800 men and women of the Ohio Army National Guard’s 37th Brigade Combat Team (37th B.C.T.)—historically called the "Buckeye Brigade"—are the first citizen-soldiers to deploy with military working dogs called “TEDDs.” The acronym stands for “Tactical Explosives Detection Dogs.” Using a variety of techniques, they sniff out bombs while serving overseas.

“Our job is helping to save lives, and being able to do something that machines or people alone can’t do,” says Spc. Devin Cooper, 23, of Columbus, Ohio. “What I like about the assignment is that I always have something to do: When people see my TEDD they always say, ‘I miss my dog back home.’ It’s just good company having him around.”

Published bi-monthly, Midwest Living regularly delivers tips and inspiration on pets, travel, food, home design and gardening. The magazine's editors originally explored the idea of sending "care packages" to the dogs and handlers, but learned that Uncle Sam provides all the doggie gear and food they require.

"This mail project seemed a creative way to recognize and remember our Midwestern citizen-soldiers while they are serving our country overseas," says Executive Editor Trevor Meers. "Focusing on the dogs and their handlers potentially offers people a new way to think about that story—and provides a simple way to act on their patriotic impulses."

Think of it as "mail-call for mil-dogs."

Midwest Living is published by Meredith Corp., Des Moines, Iowa, which also produces Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies Home Journal. Midwest Living reaches approximately 3.4 million readers nationwide.

In the "Discoveries" section of the July/August 2012 issue of Midwest Living, readers are asked to send postcards, letters, and other messages of support to:
Buckeye Brigade
c/o Midwest Living
1716 Locust Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
The 37th BCT, historically known as the “Buckeye” brigade and for its distinctive circular shoulder patch (see right), comprises units from the Michigan and Ohio Army National Guards. In addition to a headquarters based in Columbus, Ohio, these include:
  • 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry Regiment (1-125th Inf.) Flint, Mich.
  • 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment (1-148th Inf.), Walbridge, Ohio
  • 1st Squadron,126th Cavalry Regiment (1-126th Cav.), Wyoming, Mich.
  • 1st Battalion, 134th Field Artillery (1-134th FA), Columbus, Ohio
  • 237th Brigade Support Battalion (237th BSB), Cleveland, Ohio
  • Special Troops Battalion, 37th BCT, Springfield, Ohio
There are 12 dog-and-handler teams deployed throughout the brigade. An Army veterinarian helps the handlers monitor their canine partners’ health. Dogs are carefully issued specific amounts of food each day. Treats are given as reinforcement for jobs well-done. By tradition, the dogs are considered to hold rank one step above their handlers.

Before deploying overseas in January, the teams trained at Vohne Liche Kennels, Inc., Denver, Ind., and in the Arizona’s Mojave desert. “The trainers incorporated stressful combat situations while working you with the dogs, yelling and screaming at you,” laughs Sgt. Anthony Utz, 25, of New Bremen, Ohio. “It was almost like basic training all over again.” Utz is the coordinator for the brigade’s TEDD program.

After the Buckeye units return stateside in fall 2012, the TEDDs will travel to Indiana for retraining and reassignment.

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