NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Military veteran John Fontenot has had quite the journey since entering the United States Army 22 years ago.
Someone very important inspired him to join as he graduated high school.
"I was an outdoorsman, so I was really good at that. I was also an athlete so I signed up for the military which was the United States Army. It kind of grew into pretty much respect for my grandfather which I really respected greatly, he was a United States Navy veteran." Fontenot said.
Fontenot began his service in 1994 in Europe in core special operations before being deployed to Bosnia and then retiring in 1999.
"I think the hardest part about coming back home and that transition was you lose that since of comradery" Fontenot said.
Fontenot suffered from PTSD as he came back home and went back to school.
"I think that was one of the turning points where I knew I was sick and I was hiding it from everyone and it was almost too late when I asked for help." Fontenot said.
Fontenot found himself drinking more than he should and ended up in the hospital with health issues before he decided to check himself into counseling for about 8 months.
"It taught me that a counselor for veterans doesn't always have to be a veteran, so that was a breath of fresh air." Fontenot said.
Now Fontenot helps college students to get to graduation day at the Veteran's Resource Center of Steven F. Austin University.
"It's so rewarding to see my students graduate and wear that smile that they've never worn in their life before" Fontenot said.
Since the center opened in 2012 Fontenot has come a very long way.
"It has all come full circle and I have a much clearer outlook of who I am" Fontenot said.
He also has advice for anyone going through something similar to his story.
"Ask for help, go find help, one of the things is a lot of times when you are sick or kind of up in the clouds so to speak it feels like no one loves you and no one supports you and that's just not true." Fontenot said.
Fontenot helped make the SFA Veterans resource center a reality in order to assist soldiers who are serving as well as their families.
The center will celebrate its 5 year anniversary in March of 2017.