(FOX 13) - For defendant Clay Allred, what difference a couple of years make.
He's a straight-A student at a state college in Jacksonville and on his way to a new career.
"I've tried to, from the very beginning, take what happened to me and turn it into a positive and move on from it," said Allred.
And it hasn't been easy. He was arrested with a cache of weapons in 2014, after firing a gun outside a convenience store. Surveillance video also showed him urinating at the check out counter.
The Army veteran, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, pleaded no contest in veterans treatment court.
But later, Hillsborough Judge Gregory Holder tried to help Allred get back on his feet, first by reducing his sentence, hoping it would help him get re-admitted to USF to finish his degree. Then Holder pleaded with USF trustees, who wouldn't budge.
Those actions got Judge Holder in hot water with the Florida Supreme Court.
Judge Holder says supreme court guidelines encourage judges to be advocates for veterans in treatment court. But he accepts the reprimand, and believes the scolding was worth it.
"These are the heroes, these men and women, they come in battered and broken," explained Holder.
Now, a new judge is overseeing Allred's progress. And his attorney, Jack Hernandez hopes to end Allred's probation by next spring.
"And hopefully, after that, his life is his, the world's his oyster," said Fernandez.
DJ Reyes, a retired U.S. Army Colonel who is Allred's mentor in veteran treatment court says his come-back is a testament to the program.
"It brings great pride to me to see him advance and do so well right now in school considering where he's been on this journey," said Reyes.