SAN ANTONIO – It is not uncommon for military veterans and their families to face challenges post-duty, a problem that exists here in Bexar County. This weekend, people can help thousands of veterans in San Antonio just by taking a few steps.
The latest Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce numbers show Bexar County has around 159,000 veterans and over 80,000 active-duty military service members.
Early Fontenot, a U.S. Army veteran and the Wounded Warrior Project’s major gifts regional director in San Antonio, shared his story and how he gives back with the organization’s help.
“I served in the Army from 2003 to 2006 with the 10th Mountain Division,” said Fontenot. “I remember 9/11. I was a freshman in college when that happened and (was) one of the millions of people that dropped what they were doing and enlisted.”
Fontenot answered the call and served our country, a time he will never forget.
“I was deployed in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2004 and then Iraq from 2005 to 2006. So it was very fast-paced, life-changing. But I wouldn’t replace it for anything,” Fontenot said.
However, Fontenot’s journey from service to where he stands today was not easy.
“Wounded Warrior Project came into my life in 2010 after my best friend had committed suicide, so I turned to the Wounded Warrior Project and the Warriors to Work program. I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now without that program 13 years ago,” Fontenot said.
Fontenot now works to help his fellow veterans with the Wounded Warrior Project in Military City, USA.
“Our mission is to honor and empower our wounded warriors,” Fontenot said.
He says the national program has a big focus on physical and mental health and serves just over 200,000 post-9/11 warriors and about 50,000 family members.
“Our goal is to just get warriors to live the best possible, purpose-driven lives. Obviously, that’s something different for everybody, but they can’t do that unless their mental health needs are taking care of their physical needs are taken care of,” Fontenot said.
The Wounded Warrior Project continues to help the military community, and there is a public event on the way aimed at helping thousands.
The Carry Forward 5K symbolizes the weight veterans take on while protecting our country while running the race and carrying flags to raise funds for warriors and their families.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for the community to come out, get to know a lot of the warriors we serve, learn about our mission, and just celebrate doing what we’re doing,” Fontenot said.
The event will be held on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Mission County Park on Padre Drive. Registration opens at 7 a.m., and the opening ceremony begins at 8 a.m.
“Come out and experience the event. It’s invigorating,” Fontenot said.
For more information on the Carry Forward 5K, click here.