January 12, 2014 Updated: January 12, 2014 at 12:05 pm
A former Fort Carson soldier who used his GI Bill to attend acting school is hoping to catch a lucky break this year.
In September, Chris DeVinny, a former forward observer who served with the post's 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, landed his first small-screen role - a bit part as a Navy master-at-arms in an episode of NBC's "Ironside," a prime-time crime drama about a police detective in a wheelchair.
The episode was slated to air in early November. But the show was canceled due to low ratings days before it was scheduled to run.
"At first, it was like a slap in the face," said DeVinny, 27. "But I guess I just drive on. You get used to this type of stuff."
In 2010, DeVinny, a Grand Junction native, was medically discharged from the Army. He moved from Colorado Springs to Los Angeles and used his GI Bill to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
He's spent most of his short acting career on theater stages. Because plays typically pay just a few bucks a performance - not enough to make ends meet- he supplements his income by working as a handyman.
But he's "barely squeaking by," he said.
"It's rough," he said. "I just play it by ear."
DeVinny has considered counting his losses and heading back to Colorado.
"Within a couple of months, I could be the same weight I was before, eating and living decent," he said. "But I'd just be bored. You seldom regret what you actually do. More times than not, you regret what you don't do.
"One job, one shot could change my whole life forever."
His worst days in LA don't hold a candle to one of his lowest moments in Iraq. DeVinny served 15 months in the country's Dora province from 2006 to 2007.
He recalls digging through a burning pile of trash, looking for missing shotguns before heading out on a mission.
"I remember thinking, 'No matter what happens, where I'm at in the civilian world, I'll always be able to look back on this day and remember that nothing sucked as bad as this,'" he said with a chuckle.
"But guys are still going through that," he said of troops serving in Afghanistan. "I appreciate what they're still going through. I know a lot of people have forgotten that we're still at war."
DeVinny is writing a play about the plight of Iraq war veterans. He hopes to partner with other veterans to bring it to an LA stage sometime this year.
In the near future, he hopes to land a TV commercial gig to make ends meet. His goal is to land regular roles in TV shows and movies.
Despite going through tough times, "I'm really happy just to be here, and that's good enough for right now," he said. "If something comes of this, great. If it doesn't, I'm still enjoying myself. It's my long search for happiness."