I Feel Like A New Person Ready To Tackle The World
“Growing up in Salinas, California, a huge agricultural and Hispanic population where there was constant crime and gang violence, I constantly had to keep my head down in order to stay out of trouble. Being born from immigrant parents can be challenging at times because of cultural indifferences and barriers that can prevent you from living a normal life. There is always a chance that you end up on the wrong path, which at times I felt I had no choice to fit in.” Since a young age, Noel took his education seriously from winning science fairs to being awarded several academic awards.
Noel graduated six months early due to his educational achievements and decided to enlist in the US Marine Corps at 17 years old. “I wanted more of a challenge in my life other than just perusing a higher education, so I decided to enlist in the US Marine Corps.”
His first deployment was in 2008 to Afghanistan. Noel served as an FDC/ Forward Observer for 2nd Battalion 7th Marine. “During my deployment, I suffered an injury when a sniper’s bullet went through my gun scope, hit my weapon and ricocheted and curved into the side of my neck. The wound needed a couple of surgeries, but no major arteries were affected. For my injuries and efforts in Afghanistan, I was promoted and awarded the Purple Heart and a Navy Commendation Medal.”
“In 2010, I was later deployed overseas as part of the 31st MEU where I spent half of my time on a Naval ship and training NATO forces.” He didn’t suffer any additional injuries, but the memory lapses and night tremors started to show up. “Following this deployment, I was honorably discharged from the Marines.”
After his discharge, he moved the family to Temecula, California where he continued his education and worked in the security sector. “I had always loved computers before the military, so I decided to pursue a degree in that field. One of my best memories as a child was the first time I used a computer and attempted to break it apart to see what made it run. I remember thinking: I can make it run better.” Shortly after, Noel moved to Las Vegas, Nevada when a new opportunity came up. “I then transferred to a four-year university and earned my BS in Information Management in 2014. I continued my education and finished an MBA in 2016 while also moving up the ladder with the security company where I had been working. I worked as an extradition agent for ICE from 2011-2013 and enjoyed it because I felt it gave me a new purpose. When that contract ended, I decided to pursue my career in a technical field and ended up working for a casino company doing technical support.”
“Even though my career was blossoming, there was always a void in my life that I felt over time would disappear, but it never did. The feeling resulted in sporadic bursts of anger and depression. Shortly after, I learned about MVP from my friend and fellow Marine, Denver Morris. I had heard he was having some transitioning problems and was staying in a transitional house. He told me about the program and how it had changed his life. Knowing that I had the same transition issues when leaving the service, I wanted to see if the program would help me too.”
“The program at first glance was amazing, and I had not felt at home since leaving the service. I felt like a new person ready to tackle the world. Like any new non-profit there were many uncertainties such as; would the concept of merging athletes with veterans work? We all believed it would work and we stuck together in making it happen.” Shortly after the success of MVP in Los Angeles, the program expanded to Las Vegas, Nevada where I was hired to run the second MVP chapter with MMA Hall of Famer/ MVP Board Member Randy Couture. At first, the program was shaky with only 4 to 6 members but later grew tremendously to 40 plus in attendance every week. Not many people get to be part of growing an organization from the ground up, andI was fortunate enough to be part of it. I always wanted to make a difference in the world, and now I get to do it every day of my life.”