TISHOMINGO, Okla. (KTEN) — When Chris Austin switches on his clippers, it's an opportunity to help someone and spark a conversation about a passion that he found more than a decade ago.

Austin's desire to be a barber started while he was serving in the United States Army. 

Between basic training and when he had some time to spare, he gave fellow servicemen a trim that was a little nicer than a typical buzz cut.

"Nobody was really happy with exactly what they got, but you really didn't get a choice," Austin said. "When we were able to start having those styles, it was always: 'Do we have enough time?'"

So he made do with what he had.

Chris Austin is the proprietor of the Patriot Barber Shop in Tishomingo.

Upon returning home, Austin went to barber school, became licensed in Texas and Oklahoma, eventually opening his own establishment, Patriot Barber Shop, last year.

"I just really wanted to get back to what made me happy, and what made me happy was making other people look good in barbering in the military," he said.

For Austin, every interaction is an opportunity, which is why he never forgets why he loves what he does.

"The three headstones were gentlemen that myself and my business partner served with that we have lost along the way. This barbershop is dedicated to them," Austin said. "I really got to know them in a different aspect during a haircut, and that's something I never want to forget. I never want to forget the fallen."

When Chris Austin comes to his shop every day, it's another opportunity to help the next veteran who walks in.