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  • Writer's pictureZ TITLE GROUP


Updated: Apr 27, 2022

Those of you who know Al are aware that he is always accompanied by a handsome Golden Retriever named Bailey. Indeed, Al and Bailey are frequently seen throughout the community and are well known at the Tuscawilla Country Club where Al works part time as a starter. As a Marine Corp veteran, Al has made it his life’s mission to help other veterans who are facing challenges in their lives. This story, however, is more encompassing than highlighting Mr. Haslam’s role to support other service personnel. In addition to Al’s remarkable efforts to support people in need, members of our Tuscawilla community have rallied to help Al and his service dog, Bailey, achieve the dream of home ownership.

Serving our nation as a Marine Corp Sergeant E-5 during the Vietnam War, Al returned as a proud disabled war veteran. Like so many of our returning soldiers during this turbulent time, he was subjected to a cultural trend that failed to respect the patriotic duties carried out by our service personnel. Many of our returning soldiers demonstrated a variety of unhealthy coping behaviors including alcoholism, drug abuse and social reclusiveness. Like so many others, Sergeant Al Haslam was struggling to deal with the aftermath of serving in Vietnam when relief came from an unusual source. Al’s brother convinced him to try golfing as a therapeutic activity to help cope with the emotional hurdles that he was facing. Golfing soon became a successful alternative activity that served to guide Al to pursue a more positive approach to living life. In fact, Al believes that golf may have saved his life. He still displays the clubs given to him by his brother in 1972.

As time moved forward, Al moved from his home town in Wadesville, Pennsylvania to Florida. He eventually married and was blessed with four children. One daughter lives in Maine while two other daughters and one son live here in Central Florida. Al had a distinguished career in the banking business that supported his family and that eventually led to living in the Tuscawilla Community. Once again, life took an unexpected turn that produced difficult challenges resulting from a divorce. Being resilient and with the support of his children and church, Al began to focus on becoming involved with a number of non-profit organizations that actively support our veterans.

Al Haslam became involved with the Fairways for Warriors group that provides golf as a recreational therapy and serves on the board of directors for Pawsitive Action Training. This organization trains and provides service dogs to veterans. With a passion for golf, Al has traveled to various Fairways for Warriors events throughout the country and has even met on the links with President Donald Trump. The Pawsitive Action Training was a blessing in that the trainers recognized the “connection” that existed between Al and a service dog in training named Bailey. This new member to Al’s family has served both of them well. Bailey is easily the most laid-back Golden Retriever in Tuscawilla. He is now six years old and demonstrates unwavering love and devotion toward Al.

While these programs continue to provide proven therapeutic services to soldiers, Al Haslam has personally provided support to many veterans experiencing psychological trauma. Sadly, 1 in 5 returning combat veterans is diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. He has successfully persuaded veterans with PTSD from ending their lives and, in some cases, has been known to remove a gun from their hand. Al is described by those who know him as a selfless man who is proud of hiscountry and willing to help anyone in need.

Shortly after Al and Bailey were hired at the Tuscawilla CC, they met Tracy Pierce who had a golf villa for sale. Vilmarys Metropulos and her husband are owners of Z Title Group here in Tuscawilla and had met Al and Bailey at the club. Upon learning of his dream for purchasing the villa, Vilmarys, known as “V”, stepped in to help Al’s dream come true. She worked extensively with Mrs. Pierce and Al to organize a reasonable sale price and to help navigate the mortgage process. Once again, however, challenges emerged as a result of a dormant financial issue stemming from the divorce. Even though Al was discouraged, “V” was able to provide solutions and the purchase of the home seemed to be imminent.

After learning of Al’s situation and financial constraints, Tuscawilla resident and local home inspector Erik Coplin provided his service at a discounted price. The inspection, however, revealed roof repair issues and code compliance problems with the electrical panel. Chris and “V” Metropulos came to the rescue again and were able to have their friend Keith, a licensed electrician, fix the problem for just the cost of the parts. Charlie Grinrod at NBS Roofing was contacted and repaired the roof free of charge. Many of you know Tuscawilla resident Ted “Teddy” Baker, owner of Baker Commercial Landscaping. Teddy brought his crew over to spruce up Al’s new home by planting shrubs and providing mulch. With the property in compliance, Best Mortgage Solutions, Inc. and “V” helped Al finalize the purchase.

Hopefully, this story has provided an inspiring appraisal of a very humble man and his service (celebrity) dog Bailey. Al Haslam served our country during a very difficult time in our history. In spite of life’s challenges, he continues to provide unselfish assistance to other veterans. Chris and Vilmarys’ commitment to help Al achieve his dream of home ownership speaks clearly to the impact that individuals can have on the lives of others. These acts of kindness from all of the people involved with helping Al achieve his dream are defining measures of attributes that make our community great.

Thank you to Al and Bailey for sharing their story with our THOA members and the residents of the Tuscawilla Community. Special thanks to all of those people who pooled their resources to provide a home for one of Tuscawilla’s most amazing veterans.

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