TAMPA — He's just a small ball of fur, but Khaos is in training at MacDill Air Force Base to give strength to those who need it as the first therapy dog for victims of sexual assault in the military's Air Mobility Command.
When his therapy training is complete, the 10-month-old, white Maltese will provide therapeutic support to aid in the healing process for victims of sexual assault.
Base officials would not release statistics for sexual assaults at MacDill, but it's a problem throughout the military.
In 2015, according to the latest figures released by the Pentagon, 14,900 service members were sexually assaulted, which is 5,400 fewer than the 20,300 sexual assault victim reports estimated in 2014.
Khaos was purchased for the program from a breeder by 1st Lt. Diana Eldridge, the deputy sexual assault and response coordinator assigned to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill's host unit.
Khaos is the centerpiece of the Paw Support Program designed to break down barriers for victims of sexual assault who are considering seeking out help, Eldridge said. The little Maltese, who turns 1 around Halloween, is the first of its kind in the major Air Force command that oversees MacDill.
He is part of the awareness and treatment efforts offered through the base's office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response or SAPR.
Khaos has undergone obedience training provided free by Sit Means Sit, a North Pinellas dog training company. There, he learned basic obedience, advanced obedience and distraction avoidance.
For now, the dog is a roving ambassador for the SAPR office, Eldridge said, traveling the base to introduce the program. After his first birthday, Khaos and Eldridge, who will be his handler, will undergo therapy training. Once that is complete, Khaos can begin helping sexual assault victims.
Ultimately, Khaos will serve as both a therapy dog, helping sexual assault victims cope with the trauma of their experience, and an "an icebreaker," said Eldridge. Khaos will engage with sexual assault victims to break down barriers they might have toward seeking treatment.
"He is a small dog who provides a lot of comfort," Eldridge said. "He is hypoallergenic, and is very good with people."
The Pentagon announced the death last week of a civilian who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, the fight against the Islamic State.
GS-12 Daniel Hoadley, 54, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, died Aug. 18 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from a non-combat related incident. The incident is under investigation.
Hoadley was assigned to the Office of the Program Manager, Saudi Arabian National Guard Modernization Program, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
U.S. Navy and Marine Corps divers have recovered the remains of all 10 USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) sailors killed after an Aug. 21 collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC in waters east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.
The fallen sailors are:
Electronics Technician 1st Class Charles Nathan Findley, 31, from Kansas City, Missouri; Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Abraham Lopez, 39, from El Paso, Texas; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, from Gaithersburg, Md; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, from Cable, Ohio; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, from Manchester, Md; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Corey George Ingram, 28, from Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, from Suffield, Conn.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class John Henry Hoagland III, 20, from Killeen, Texas; Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, from Decatur, Ill.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class and Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, of Cherry Hill, N.J.
The incident is under investigation.
There have been 2,347 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; 43 U.S. troop deaths and one civilian Department of Defense employee death in support of the follow-up, Operation Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan; 35 troop deaths and two civilian deaths in support of Operation Inherent Resolve; one troop death in support of Operation Odyssey Lightning, the fight against Islamic State in Libya; and one death under classified as "other contingency operations" in the global war on terrorism.
Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.