TSTC auto collision program helps Army vet cope with PTSD

Posted at 6:22 AM, Sep 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-27 07:31:05-04

A U.S. Army veteran in Killeen is crediting an auto collision program at Texas State Technical College in Waco for helping him cope with his PTSD.

"I was at a friend's shop one day, started working on a car, and I realized that my mind, instead of focusing on problems and issues ... my mind was at ease," 34-year-old Hector Corujo said.

Corujo is a 14-year U.S. Army veteran. He did three combat tours in Iraq.

"I never really decided to seek help until 2015 when I was getting a little out of control," the Puerto Rican native said.

After developing a passion in auto collision work and realizing it helped him call his PTSD, he enrolled in the auto collision and management technology program at TSTC in Waco.

"It keeps my mind busy. So instead of focusing on stuff that had happened in the past, I'm always focusing on what I need to do next with the vehicle as far as painting, looking forward to a new day at the school, so it's a new challenge," he said.

He also uses sports and music to cope with his PTSD.

"I really haven't had [any] bad outbursts. So it's working. I also have an awesome wife, kids, so that's my support channel that helps me out a lot," Corujo said.

He said he wouldn't be doing what he's doing now had he not sought help two years ago.

"Go get help. That's the best way to deal with it," he said, offering advice for other veterans who might also have PTSD.

He hopes to open up his own shop one day, where he'll be able to put the knowledge he's learned to use.

"The military gave me the leadership skills, the mental fortitude, toughness, to come out here and succeed in life instead of just failing. They gave me the tools. I'm using what they gave me and applying it," he said. "I'm very confident I'll be a successful owner one day in this career."

Corujo plans to finish his associate's degree at TSTC in December and complete an advanced certificate in collision repair by December 2018.

In September, Corujo received the 2017 3M Hire Our Heroes scholarship, which awarded him $2,000 and a tool grant.

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