As a veteran the Corporal E-4 joined the marines because he was feeling, “gung- ho” but by the time he got out he really “wanted to maintain his clearance” as an intelligence specialist analyst dealing with top secret security.
The qualifications he had to meet to attain that clearance include background checks-criminal, legal, financial- as well as investigators interviewing Noriega’s neighbors and friends to check out his character.
Currently, he is attending school under the G.I. Bill which pays for his tuition up to thirty-six months; he is majoring in computer science and software programming.
The G.I. Bill was a law passed in 1944 for those who had served in World War II and it provides expenses paid for an education and other benefits for those who were honorably discharged from the armed forces.
This bill provides the benefits of having the vet center at Fullerton College aid in the assistance of signing up for school and paying for it, covers tuition costs, gives the veteran one thousand dollars per year while on the G.I. Bill and a living stipend which is a monthly payment of twenty-six hundred in the Anaheim area.
The stipend covers cost-of-living and the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is paid out according to rank, housing situation and living area.
While Noriega enjoyed his time in the marines, it is unlikely he will return since he has laid eyes on a new career path which is to eventually work with artificial intelligence.
He was stationed in Okinawa Japan for two years between 2013 and 2015 and another two years at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside California.
Initially, when joining the military there was only one recruiter in his hometown of Chilton, Wisconsin, so he joined the marines after becoming friendly with the recruiter. He then went to boot camp at the Marine Corp Recruiting Depot.
“It was pretty odd seeing some of the people who slipped through the cracks and made it into boot camp, because they were not mentally strong as well as physically strong” said Noriega.
The transition into a school environment has been “pretty odd” and “[he’s] had to get used to not being told what to do constantly” said Noriega.
Cal Poly Pomona is the school of choice he wants to transfer to after finishing up at Fullerton College in a few semesters.
“My experience was very helpful at the Vet Center, they streamlined everything for me in a timely manner,” said Noriega.
Initially he had some trouble in the Register’s office but the Vet Center helped to work everything out with him.
“The Vet Center is filled with veterans who are willing to help other vets, it’s been a very helpful resource for me,” said Noriega.
After leaving the marines and transitioning back into civilian life, he searched for housing on websites like Craigslist and Kangaroom and “[he] considers [himself] lucky to have found his current living situation since the landlord just renovated” said Noriega.
He has been at his current house for eight months now and there are a total of eight people who live in the house which [he] is used to since he came straight out of the barracks” said Noriega.
Everyone gets along there according to Noriega and he even found love at his new home- with a smile he tells the story of how he and his girlfriend Vega started dating, “When [he] first moved in he didn’t have a lot of friends in the area so [she] would invite [him] to hang out with [her] friends and eventually friendship turned into romance” and they now share a room together.
His family consists of one younger brother, two younger sisters and two step-siblings after his mother got remarried. They reside in Wisconsin and he doesn’t see them often.
“It’s too cold in Wisconsin, so [he] doesn’t go back to visit often,” said Noriega.
At the end of his career in the marines, he experienced a cyst on his wrist that was persistent so he “was promised surgery but no doctors got ahold of him for two months,” said Noriega so he was already out of the marines and no longer living in the immediate area.
This made it too much of an inconvenience so he simply never got it surgically worked on but, “it’s okay because it hasn’t grown back,” said Noriega.
Fortunately, Noriega does not suffer from any other medical or dental issues so he hasn’t had to deal with the Veteran’s Affairs.
During his time stationed in Okinawa his platoon monitored North Korea’s day-to-day goings about and helped the leaders on the ground with decisions based on the intel collected.
“[We] would deal with raw data and assess the information to get a better, bigger picture,” said Noriega.
He was section two which handles the information day-in and day-out and it was his platoon’s job to know the interworking’s of every platoon there.
Even though, he is under the G.I. Bill Noriega still works a part-time job as night-time security guard in the Anaheim and Fullerton area driving around businesses for security purposes between the hours of eight at night and six in the morning.
He has been attending his 7 A.M. classes all semester and dealing with the lack of sleep. He likes to spend time with his girlfriend Vega-who is a pediatric nurse to keep his stress levels down as well as listen to podcasts, read books, workout and eat sweets.
Thinking back to his Marine Corps days, his favorite memory is, “the third Marine Corps ball with my buddy who had a little too much to drink so he got aggressive and tried to throw a chair at their sergeant major” recalls Noriega.
So, he helped his friend back to the barracks but, “on the way he tried to get into another bar to get another drink so I blocked his way and he proceeded to choke me, like hand-to-throat choking and we got into a fight,” continues Noriega.
After finally arriving back at the barracks, they “calm down and then everyone was coming back from the ball throwing swings at each other like a brawl- it was awesome” described Noriega.
He is looking forward to continuing at Fullerton College and taking his core classes in the semesters to come.