On Thursday, March 7th, the road rose up to meet Justin Scott Dodson on the next leg of his journey. After battling ALS for 6 tough years, he quietly headed out, at home, in his big chair, with his wife and dog, under his own terms. Justin was a US Army/Iraq war veteran, 100% certified (by him) Irishman, husband, son, brother, uncle, friend, provocateur, raconteur, Jameson Irish Whiskey connoisseur, teller of tales, impeccable dresser, life liver, court holder, his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. He loved his wife, his people, his country, his God, his dog and great booze.
Justin was born May 1, 1975 in Spring Valley, Illinois and grew up in Bloomington Illinois where he graduated from Central Catholic High School (where he played football, baseball and hockey). It was at this point that he found his main calling in life-the United States military-and he served just as his father, grandfathers and uncles had. Justin joined the US Army and was on active duty from 1993-1997 where he learned to jump as part of the 82nd Airborne (Airborne!). He was honorably discharged and pursued his degree in Criminal Justice (minor in Political Science) at Illinois State University, where he became a lifetime member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity. Justin was on active reserve with the 7th Psychological Operations Group from 2003-2006, where he graduated from the U.S. Army John F Kennedy Special Warfare School as a Psychological Operations Specialist. Juice, as he was nicknamed in the service, proudly served two tours of duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom, as part of the 307th Psychological Operations Company, where he received multiple commendations including the Combat Action Badge, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal. Upon return to civilian life, he used the myriad of skills he learned in the service as the Director of Operations and Public Safety for Block 37 as part of AlliedBarton Security Services.
It is at this point that he found his second calling-Justin was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) but he didn’t take the ALS diagnosis laying down and proactively became a vocal advocate for ALS patients, specifically veterans. Justin was chosen by the ALS Association to represent them in Washington DC, where two times he spoke before congress and successfully gained additional funding for ALS research and patients. He said he was more afraid going before congress than he was fighting in Iraq!
Though we are happy Justin is free again and on his way now, we’d much rather that he had stayed. He will be missed by many, especially his wife Violet, son/dog Augustus Dodson, parents Jim and Diane Dodson, sister Corie and her kids Piper, Isaac and Amelia as well as countless friends from his civilian and military experiences.
Lastly, Justin would want you to please go out and have a drink tonight with the ones you love, raise a toast in his honor, have a laugh and make sure you tell your people that you love them.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the ALS Foundation of Greater Chicago, in Justin’s memory.
Donations may be made to:
ALS Foundation of Greater Chicago
There’s still time to send flowers to the Gathering of Family and Friends at the Old St. Patrick’s Church from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM on March 20, 2019.