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OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Chris Lawrence is about to realize his dream of becoming a police officer. He’s been hired by the Chula Vista Police Department.

His journey has been long and painful.

At 20 years of age, he found himself in Iraq serving with fellow Marines. An improvised explosive device was set off as he crossed a bridge, critically damaging his feet and left arm.

It would be months before he started walking again, but when he did, his right leg wasn’t responding and was ultimately amputated.

“I always looked up to them and thought about becoming an officer after I got out of the Marine Corps, that’s something I would do,” Lawrence said.

Years later, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department initially offered him an opportunity to wear a badge, but ultimately rejected Lawrence because of his physical limitations.

“I put so much work and time. I trained every day. I ran every day,” Lawrence said.

Another Marine Veteran suggested Lawrence try the police academy at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, where instructors gave him an opportunity.

After 11 months, he graduated last week and will be sworn in Friday morning.

“I wouldn’t have ever guessed nine, 10 years ago when I got injured that I would be achieving this,” Lawrence said. “I want to have the impact on the community that those officers had on me when I was younger and I want to return every favor I’ve gotten and make sure that I can do everything I can to help the citizens of Chula Vista.”