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NACC’s Veterans Day Program to be held November 9, 2023

November 01, 2023

Pictured are Chief Master Sergeant Eric M. Dudash and Phantom the Service Dog.

Northeast Alabama Community College will host a community-wide Veterans Day reception on Thursday, November 9, at 10:00 a.m. in the Tom Bevill Lyceum. Refreshments will follow the program, and the college extends an invitation to anyone who wishes to attend. We especially want to welcome all local veterans and the family members of veterans to this program.

This year’s guest speaker will be Chief Master Sergeant Eric M. Dudash and Phantom the Service Dog. Chief Master Sergeant Eric M. Dudash 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 including hostage rescue and drug interdiction.

Obtaining the rank of Chief Master Sergeant/E9, he served in Command positions supporting various MAJCOMS from Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), Air Force Central Command (AFCENT), Air Combat Command (ACC), United States Air Forces Europe (USAFE), Special Operations Command (SOCCOM), Combined Joint Special Operations Component (CJSOAC) and Air Education & Training command (AETC). During his service, he deployed 17 times and completed 167 TDYs to different locations.

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.

Chief Dudash has a Master of Arts in Education, concentrating in Adult Education and Training. He resides in Mentone, Alabama with his bride Barbara, and is a proud of his 3 children Zachary, Brooke and Adoree (“Add O Ray”). He is a Bronze Legacy member of the Dekalb County VFW Post 3128 and serves as the VFW State of Alabama Jr. Vice Commander.

Along with his new battle buddy “Phantom”, they mentor other veterans in the Warrior Freedom Service Dogs program, help veterans receiving Hospice Care, are members of the Fort Payne Patriots Park Board and speaks to school classrooms across the state, as well as businesses about teamwork, resiliency, and servant leadership.

He was recently honored with the 2022 Top 20 Community Leaders in DeKalb County, 2022 Spirit of the Eagle Award (Boy Scouts of America/Alabama), Liberty’s Learning Foundation 2022 Super Citizen Award and was awarded the Governor of Alabama Veteran of the Year 2022 award.

Phantom was born December 7, 2019. His breeders felt a calling to donate a German Shepherd from their litter to Warrior Freedom Service Dogs located in Flinstone, GA. Warrior Freedom Service Dogs assist combat wounded veterans that suffer from TBI and PTSD. For more information about Warrior Freedom Service, visit

Phantom passed the 24-page initial evaluation at 6 weeks old. He immediately was placed into service dog training. Phantom chose CMSgt (ret) Eric Dudash in February 2020. They worked together for 9 months at Warrior Freedom Service Dogs until their final test. Phantom holds 4 certifications and provides 9 service tasks. They are battle buddies to each other and are a certified team.

Phantom is skilled with helping Chief Dudash in many ways. He helps with nightmares by scent, anxiety by scent, tactile stimulation during ‘lost’ episodes, covering the ‘six’, and many more service tasks that aid Chief with day-to-day tasks.

He enjoys helping the community in many ways. Whether its visiting classrooms in the area to educate students or traveling with Chief to help fellow Veterans with their challenges, they are together all the time.

NACC is recognized as a Military Friendly School and has been awarded Silver status. The Northeast Student Veteran Association is an organization on campus that acts as an advocate for student Veteran related issues. Its purpose is to build awareness within the college and community of the challenges, experiences and related needs of the student Veteran and their dependents. To learn more about NACC’s Veteran’s Association or Veteran’s Benefits, visit or contact Jennifer Brown ( or Brenda Hernandez (


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