CHATTANOOGA, Tn — The need to help our nation's veterans is giant and it's growing all the time.
We can all help in big and smaller ways.
It's possible to save a life with just a phone call to someone who is struggling.
There are also amazing programs in and around Chattanooga that are working hard to help veterans navigate their lives after leaving the military.
More than 30 years spent in the Air Force.
Eric Dudash spent several of those years in war zones.
These days Eric never travels alone.
NewsChannel 9's Josh Roe first met Eric and Phantom about 2 months after they met. That was almost 2 years ago.
I talked to Eric about his military career in the spring of 2021 at Warrior Freedom Service Dogs in Flintstone, Georgia the place Eric met Phantom.
"I probably had 167 temporary duty assignments a little 2 week or 3 week mission where where you might help with hostage rescue in South America," Eric said.
17 deployments total. The first combat Eric saw was in Desert Storm.
"When I came back I realized I had an anger issue," Eric told me.
10 of his deployments were in situations where rounds were being fired all around him.
"I struggled a lot with what I would say was coping with survivor's guilt. When I got back from Iraq is when I really noticed it," Dudash said. "Having friends you see them that morning for breakfast and you don't see them that evening for chow."
And now wherever Eric goes he talks about the life changing miracle that is by his side every day and every night
Eric Dudash is on medication from the VA for anxiety, nightmares, and a brain injury.
He says he's been able to cut his medication by more than 60 percent since getting Phantom.
Also, on Veterans Day Eric received the Alabama Governor's Award for veteran of the year in the state.
And there is much more to the Warrior Freedom Service Dog story we will have more coming soon, on the Price of Freedom.