SAN ANTONIO – There were handshakes, hugs and even a few tears as 11 wounded veterans graduated a unique program designed to help them transition into civilian jobs.
"It's the biggest thing in my life besides my baby being born, " said Robert Reitz, who was medically retired from the U.S. Army after 10 years of service. He returned after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan to face another battle: sleeplessness, anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"After doing this, it's helped me get back to society," he said.
The Wounded Warrior Project Track program is the first education center in the nation designed specifically for wounded veterans. It's a 12-month program that focuses on spiritual, physical and academic training.
Santos Alonzo, a 22-year Army veteran, returned from Iraq after a back injury. He credits the TRACK program for helping him get on with his life.
"I think the outcome would have been different," he said. "This has really been a Godsend."
Through the program, the veterans take classes through ACCD and sign on to internships with area businesses, universities or non-profits.
Alonzo worked at Castillo Funeral Home where he discovered a passion and made the decision to pursue a Criminal Justice degree at Our Lady of the Lake University.
Reitz did his internship at the San Antonio Police Department. After continuing his education at OLLU, he hopes to become a police officer.
"I'm actually starting a new life now," he said.