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Army veterans call Cincinnati home after COVID turned life upside down

Desheers family.png
Posted at 5:47 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 22:19:38-05

CINCINNATI — A single piece of thread can’t pull much weight. However, when several threads are woven together, the strength of the threads working together can pull or hold a great weight. Every person who has served their country has that common thread -- a bond that ties them together, and when called upon can create a safety net to help veterans who need help.

As the pandemic swept across the country, some veterans found themselves out of work. In some cases, those threads came together to help.

Tyrone Desheers served as a Carpenter and Masonry Specialist in the Army. His wife, Alexis, served in the Army as well. The two of them, along with their five children, found themselves in Cincinnati in October. Transplants from Texas, where Desheers tried to get into the Ironworkers Union, they found the pay to be much less than what he'd anticipated.

“We tried to make it work the best we could. Then, when the whole COVID thing hit, my wife had lost her job at the doctor's office she was working at, and we kind of fell behind from there,” he said.

Tyrone and Alicia Desheers in the Army

Quickly burning through their savings, Desheers said his wife began using social media and Facebook groups for Ironworkers Unions to network while Tyrone was at work. It wasn’t long until the first veteran thread popped up with a possible opportunity.

“It started out with a gentleman in Louisiana and a local down there,” said Desheers. ”He said, 'Do you want to come to Louisiana?' I was like, 'ehhhh.'”

Sensing his hesitation, that person used his network to make a connection in Ohio -- another thread.

"He called one guy who called a friend of mine and my friend gave me the information,” said Chris Macklin, a Homeless Veteran Case Manager for Easterseals of Greater Cincinnati.

He had just been put in contact with a fellow Army veteran who was in need of his services and that of Easterseals.

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"I connected with Tyrone and we hit the road running,” Macklin said.

The next thing Desheers knew, his family was on the road from Texas after selling off everything they didn’t need to cover the cost of the move. They would arrive on the steps of Easterseals after another veteran put them in touch with Macklin.

“He applied for the apprenticeship program, went for the interview, was selected and started like two weeks later,” Macklin said. “But then we had to find housing, and in the interim the truck broke down, so there was a lot of other barriers that came up. We just had to chop wood and make it through it.”

"Chopping that wood" meant tackling each issue until it was resolved.

Macklin helped Desheers and his wife secure housing, using the Supportive Service for Veteran Families Program. It would provide temporary housing until paychecks started coming in to secure a permanent place to live. Macklin was able to find funding to help cover the repair costs on the Desheers' truck that had broken down.

In addition, Wheels Ministry through Crossroads Church provided the family with a donated car to provide transportation for both Tyrone and Alexis.

"We were able to meet the emergent needs to help him get housing to help him get his kids enrolled in school,” said Macklin.

Through this process, Macklin and Desheers have grown close and consider each other to be family.

"I've called him, 'Hey, I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm tired, I'm frustrated,' and he's motivated me and I've motivated him,” Macklin said. "Tyrone is also mentoring another area veteran to help him get into the steel union.”

Tyrone says they couldn’t have done it without the veteran safety net and Macklin at Easterseals of Greater Cincinnati: "Chris has been our guardian angel since we got up here."

Macklin said it’s Desheers' character that allowed him to land on his feet.

"He's resilient. He went to a third shift, working 16 hours a day to make sure he meets the needs of his family," he said. "And that's just what you get when you get an Army veteran."

If you have a veteran story to tell in your community, email homefront@wcpo.com. You also can join the Homefront Facebook group, follow Craig McKee on Facebook and find more Homefront stories here.

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