Woman honors son's memory while helping local veteran - KPTV - FOX 12

Woman honors son's memory while helping local veteran

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Ryley Gallinger-Long and his wife Ryley Gallinger-Long and his wife
Ryley, a yellow lab, will help Rodriguez readjust to civilian life. Ryley, a yellow lab, will help Rodriguez readjust to civilian life.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A local woman has found a touching way to honor her son who died while serving in Afghanistan.

Susan Blanchard's son, Ryley Gallinger-Long, was a hospitalman serving on the front lines when he was killed in 2011.

He was only 19, and left behind his wife of less than a year.

Blanchard said he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he died. Now she is honoring her son's memory by helping another hospitalman.

Crescencio Rodriguez, a local veteran who served multiple tours in Iraq, now suffers from PTSD. Thanks to Blanchard and the nonprofit organization PAVE, or Paws Assisting Veterans, Rodriguez now has a service dog companion.

Blanchard helped train the yellow lab, named Ryley after her son, and says he is a great match for Rodriguez.

“They're just beautiful together,” she said. “I can see Ryley look at him and say, ‘That's my man up there.'”

The dog will now live with Rodriguez and help him adjust to life away from the front lines. They have been training together for about two weeks, and Rodriguez says it's already made a big difference.

“'I went to dinner yesterday with coworkers and I felt comfortable,” he said. “It wasn't that sense of, ‘I gotta get outta here.' It was more of a sense of, ‘Oh, there's somebody watching everything so I can relax and enjoy my time.'"

PAVE is dedicated to training service dogs for veterans with PTSD and other issues. For more information, visit them here.

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