Where did you serve and what did you do?
Retired Chief Master Sergeant Eric M. Dudash recently retired from active duty with the United States Air Force on 1 December 2018. Spending over 30 years in service, Chief Dudash has been engaged in every conflict since Desert Shield/Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan and multiple other engagements.
Chief Master Sergeant Dudash’s last position allowed him to advise Commanders with issues regarding the readiness, utilization, morale, professional development and quality of life of more than 1,200 permanent party enlisted members in 62 different Air Force Specialties and 35,000 student graduates worldwide annually.
Tell us how your dog is helping you continue #StillServing in your community.
When I first received Phantom from Warrior Freedom Service Dogs, I was very unsure how a service dog could help with mental and physical challenges. However; he has helped me tremendously! Well beyond my expectations.
Being honored as the Commander of the Post and holding positions with District and Department levels, my goal upon retirement has always, and will always, be about helping veterans. While on active duty, our jobs were to take care of our brothers and sisters in arms and I didn’t plan on stopping upon retirement. However, I ran into some physical and mental challenges that hindered my ability to obtain my goals. Whether it was lack of sleep, medication making me feel drowsy, pain in joints, nightmares and anxiety from large crowds I quickly realized I wasn’t at 100%. I found myself withdrawing, being depressed because I was feeling that way and I was getting to a point of not feeling worthy of very much at all.
Phantom has reduced my medication over 60%, which in turn helps me not feel as drowsy and allows me to be more focused. He makes me feel comfortable in areas where I didn’t before by walking next to me, actually touching me when I feel trapped and letting me know all is alright. He reminds me to take my medications, wakes me up from nightmares, he gets me moving on days that I would normally not. In the picture attached, Phantom and I are placing flags on veteran resting sites honoring their service! Never forgetting … I could write in more detail if needed for a story.
Phantom has helped me so much and would love to help other veterans know that service dogs help! Would be glad to help anyway possible.
Why do you do it?
I want to always help and be a servant leader. Helping each other through the good and bad times is something that we as veterans thrive on. I am no different but just needed a little assistance to be able to utilize my skills. Getting other veterans to open up, understanding that ALL challenges can be conquered, and being a part of an organization that means what it says … No One Does More For Veterans!