Donnie Lawrence was still in high school when he enlisted in the army in 2007. “My parents had to sign the paperwork because I was 17,” he said.
For the next decade, Lawrence’s entire life was spent in service to his country. He went through basic training and then various deployments to Iraq, Qatar, and Guantanamo Bay. But he also had a daughter that he had to leave behind and rarely saw. “For the first half of my daughter’s life, I was overseas,” he said.
That’s why it was a particularly emotional time for Lawrence when his time of service concluded, and it came time to settle down and buy a home. “It was like closing a chapter of my life, of being overseas. Now I’m becoming a homeowner,” he said.
Lawrence had never bought a home before and he was uncertain about the process. He was looking at different options when his cousin, Tammy Young, relocation director at Sibcy Cline, informed him of the U.S. Military on the Move® program that the brokerage offers to veterans and active duty service members. The program gives participants who qualify a rebate or credit at closing based on the sale value of the home.
“Other programs I looked into claimed to serve veterans, but the rate I got with Sibcy Cline was actually lower, and the military rebate was more,” he said. “And not just that, but it was more personal. I had an all-star team,” Lawrence said, who was matched up through Sibcy Cline with agents Karen Bevins and Pete Marx. In addition to Bevins and Marx, Lawrence noted that Jason Shoe of Sibcy Cline Mortgage was instrumental in helping to close the deal and get him into his first home.
Calling out Bevins as a strong support in the process, Lawrence noted that when things got emotional for him and he just wanted to buy a house, any house, she was there as a voice of reason to remind him of the things that he had defined as “must-haves” in his new home. “She really kept working to find me the right home,” Lawrence said. “And she did. I still can’t believe it’s mine.”
Lawrence, who serves as master fitness trainer at the 1-174 Air Defense for the Ohio Air National Guard in Woodlawn, OH and also works full-time for Mobilcomm on the tower crew, chose to buy a home in the region where he grew up, Clermont County. “Clermont County really honors veterans. They’ve done so much for me.”
Clermont County Commissioner Bob Proud is a longtime friend and supporter of Lawrence. “Bob always sent me turkey jerky when I was overseas,” he said, laughing, “and he still sends me turkey jerky!” Lawrence also mentioned the support of fellow Clermont County resident Keith Maupin, who runs the Yellow Ribbon Support Center in Clermont County. Maupin’s son Matt was taken prisoner in Iraq in 2004 and his remains were later discovered near Baghdad.
One of the first things Lawrence did when he moved into his new home was to put a POW flag in front of the front door, partly to honor Matt Maupin, but also as a reminder of the service of all veterans, particularly those who served in Vietnam. “They didn’t get the parades and ceremonies and all the assistance that we get now,” he said, “but they served with honor. And because they wore the uniform, I can wear the uniform.”