Thursday, January 19, 2017

Iraq Veteran Has Big Case of Puppy Love

Palm Harbor veteran, puppies take care of one another
Bobby Lewis
January 18, 2017

Will Blanchard whipped out a pet carrier and a smile and chuckle.
“This is my new army,” he said with a group of adorable puppies yapping in the background.

The Palm Harbor transplant, by way of Chicago, is happy to have a purpose again. It took a while to find it, but his volunteer role at the Suncoast Animal League has become his calling.

“His work ethic has not changed,” said SAL executive director Rick Chaboudy. “He’s one of the hardest working.”

It’s Blanchard's nature.

His great-grandfather served in WWI. Both of his grandfathers fought in the Korean War. When he graduated from Palm Harbor University High in 2003 he, naturally, entered the military, too.

It just didn’t end well.

“I was in the Army and over in Iraq from November ‘06 to January ’08,” he recalled. “I lost a lot of buddies. Saw the terrors of war and it messed with me quite a bit.”

Since becoming retired from the military, Blanchard searched for activities to fill his day and keep his mind off his service experiences. His body is a living memorial to the friends he’s lost - his back is covered with tattooed names of 11 friends who died alongside him in service.

He needed a distraction and found it in four-legged friends.
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