Shortly after graduating high school and completing his first semester of college, Sgt. Blandin voluntarily joined the Army, serving from 2009 to 2013. Upon completion of basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, he was sent to Fort Huachuca, Arizona for Human Intelligence Advanced Individual training. Later that year, he moved to his duty station in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he learned he was going to do a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan at 19 years old.
“I arrived with my unit (Charlie Company of 519th Military Intelligence Battalion) in July 2010,” said Sgt. Blandin. “By far one of the best experiences in my life. I say that because less than 1% of Americans join the Army, and the percentage of soldiers that deploy to combat is less than that. I was one of the few. Of course I was scared because not only was this my first time going to war, I also had a daughter I had to think about.”
Sgt. Blandin and two members of his unit supported the 101st Airborne Division as part of their Humint Collection Team (HCT). During their first combat patrol they were hit by a roadside Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Sgt. Blandin was supposed to be in the vehicle that was hit with the IED but had been switched out. Thankfully, there weren’t any casualties.
During that campaign (Operation Enduring Freedom X – XI), Sgt. Blandin was battlefield-promoted to Specialist as he was the acting Team Leader (TL) for a short period of time during their TL’s absence. The majority of time he spent as the Assistant TL. Sgt. Blandin and his unit returned to the States in the summer of 2011, where he was later promoted to Sergeant. He was honorably discharged in March 2013. He then attended Campbell University to finish his degree in Business Administration and pursued a career in business.
Sgt. Blandin resides in Northern Virginia, and enjoys shooting, filming and spending time with his children. He is still active in the Veteran community and stays in close contact with his Army buddies. He currently works as a Mortgage Loan Originator for NFM Lending.
JC Jimenez and Carlos Ilanos, Branch Managers at NFM Lending, had only great things to say about Sgt. Blandin.
“Cristian Blandin is a leader.” said Jimenez. “He is a natural at helping others. He has quickly become the “go to person” by many of his peers for his knowledge and will to share it. Serving our country with all of his being is just what fits in what we know of him. Realtors, clients, colleagues; we all feel proud to deal with him. Great to have him in our team. Grateful for his service. My most profound respect for his character.”
“I was blown away when I met Cristian,” said Ilanos. “With great love he served our country and now was joining us to help people fulfill their homeownership dream. When you meet Cristian, you can see all the character traits that serving our country requires: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor and integrity. It is a great privilege to have him part of our NFM family.”
Sgt. Blandin chose Platoon 22 to receive this month’s donation.