Updated November 20, 2020 - 4:22 pm
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Deonty Eastmon was handed keys to a new car Friday through the “Driven to Serve” program, which pairs vehicles with service members in need.
Eastmon received a 2018 Dodge Journey in front of Chapman Dodge, 3175 E. Sahara Ave., thanks to Freedom Alliance, which partners with U.S. Bank to provide help and support to wounded troops and military families.
Staff Sgt. Eastmon enlisted in May 2000 as an infantryman. He served for 16 years and spent more than three years on overseas deployments, but in 2016 Eastmon medically retired after suffering multiple sustained injuries.
“An infantryman is someone who’s the ground combat element of the United States army. It takes very special people to do that,” Thomas Kilgannon, president of Freedom Alliance, said. “You need to be physically strong, mentally alert and have tremendous strength and stamina. Deonty was able to do that.”
Eastmon served two tours in Iraq and completed a third deployment to Afghanistan. He also volunteered as U.S. Army Drill Sergeant before his retirement.
Since retiring, Eastmon said it’s been difficult to find work. He has been homeless, and though he’s looked into several veteran programs, he hasn’t qualified because he is not considered 100 percent disabled.
“When you get out, it’s a sad reality check,” Eastmon said. “If you didn’t prepare for life after service, you’re continuously searching and trying to make it.”
Eastmon wears a bracelet that says “22 a day” representing the 22 soldiers we lose every day.
“The more that time goes on where I’m not physically active, the more it hurts,” he said. “It eats me up mentally and physically. But I can’t let it beat me like it has so many other soldiers.”
Eastmon said he applied in March 2019 to the “Driven to Serve” program was notified in August of his acceptance.
“This was the first of many programs that I signed up for, and this was the first that went through,” Eastmon said. “It makes me believe again.”
This is the 21st vehicle donated under the program since 2018 and 15th donated by Freedom Alliance. U.S. Bank will donate 14 vehicles to deserving veterans in 2020.