“What the military gives you is a different view of things. It’s like a do or die mentality. No matter what happens, adjust. Find a way, get it done.”
These words were spoken by Juan, a New York native and veteran of the Marine Corps whose service took him all over the world.
An eye injury forced Juan to look for work outside of the military. He eventually settled in Cincinnati, where he used his love of computers and passion for history as the research assistant for a University of Cincinnati professor.
As the professor grew older and less independent, Juan’s role shifted to becoming his caregiver. As compensation, the professor left his home to Juan in his will. Unfortunately, there were debts associated with the estate that Juan could not afford after the professor died.
Juan was now unemployed. He and his son became homeless. With options running out, his military experienced kicked in. It was time to adjust once again.
He turned to Easterseals Military and Veterans Services for help.
“I didn’t like it,” Juan admits. “I felt like I was failing.”
“Juan was a tough nut to crack,” laughs Chris Macklin, a Job Developer for Easterseals. “I mean, Juan is, he’s very, very smart, but he’s selfless, and so Juan only shared the story seeking benefits for his son. So if it had not been for his son, I don’t think we would have ever met Juan.”
“The immediate need was housing, basically trying to provide shelter space where he and his son could stay together,” Macklin said. “Juan did not want his son at a shelter. So he ultimately made the choice to send his son back to Virginia.”
The next step was to secure employment. For two years, Juan worked for the United Way of Greater Cincinnati handling materials and logistics for its annual campaign.
“It’s one of the bigger jobs when we’re packing for a really large campaign,” said Susan Grosse, United Way’s Director of Campaign Operations. “There’s planning behind it. [Juan] has made it just absolutely painless for people this year. In the way he executes the job, he is extremely thoughtful and thorough. He’s a great problem solver, and he has taken the job a step further.”
While Juan was working, the Easterseals team remembered his passion for computers. They helped him secure a scholarship through New Horizons Computer Learning Center in Blue Ash so he could pursue a new career in computer networking.
He later received a car through the Progressive Insurance Keys to Progress program. This was a big milestone as he either walked or used public transportation to and from work and never missed a day.
Even though he was reluctant to ask for help, Juan persevered and turned a life of uncertainty into a plan for the future.
“There are people who are there for you,” Juan said. “It doesn’t matter how deep you may think you’ve gotten yourself into something, they’re not going to judge you. And no one is going to try to make you feel more or less than a human being,” Juan explained.
“In the end, I feel like this is part of a family.”
If you are veteran in need of assistance, Easterseals Military & Veteran Services is here to serve you – regardless of discharge status. Click here to learn more about our services for veterans and military families.
Your gifts to Easterseals allow us to develop more innovative programs to guide people on the journey to self-sufficiency and employment. In 2018, the collective earnings of those served by Easterseals totaled nearly $11 million! That is money that is being reinvested back into Greater Cincinnati businesses and into our community.
Be the Breakthrough Moment for someone in our community looking for their opportunity to experience the pride of employment.