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Central Ohio family welcomes son back from military for Thanksgiving

In May, Matthew Exline, 18, enlisted in the U.S. Army and hasn't been home since.

MT GILEAD, Ohio — Anxiously waiting in the airport with their cell phones clutched in their hands, the Exline family, of Mt. Gilead waited for their son to arrive.

Matthew Exline, 18, left his small town to become a soldier in the U.S. Army in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

He enlisted in May and hadn’t been home since.

On Wednesday, his parents Leanne and Jeremey, and his fiancée Dakota Shipman were ready with hugs and kisses as he slowly walked towards them.

“It's scary. He's our only child. When he first said he enlisted it was pretty scary thing with everything going on in the world. We're very proud of him,” said Leanne.

Dakota says she’s been trying to plan a wedding in March while the two are apart.

“It's hard. I miss him a lot. I don't get to talk to him a lot either. I can go three or four days without talking to him,” she said.

When asked what he was most looking forward to eating when he gets home, Maxwell couldn't wait to eat mac and cheese. 

He also explained how difficult military life can be during the holidays.

“The holiday season is when we lose a lot of soldiers to depression and suicide being lonely and sad. Being in a military base, being around the same thing every day, not being able to see your family every day. It hits hard,” he said.

This is why Maxwell says he's so thankful to be back in Ohio.

“It feels good to be home. I miss my family and I miss Ohio,” he said.

Anyone who knows of someone in the military in need of mental health help can find information here

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