Battle Scars at Home and Abroad

Sounds of gunfire filled the air. Men raced to seek cover and bloodied bodies filled the streets, for veteran Anthony Revello, but this scene took place before he enlisted in the Marines. “My first experience with gunfire was watching my brother getting shot on the streets of LA.”

Thirty-year-old Revello grew up on the streets of South Central Los Angeles. Tony wanted to escape his unstable neighborhood, so out of desperation he enlisting in the military, only to find he was trading in one battlefield for another.

“I had PSTD before it was a thing,” said Revello. His family fled the poverty and violence of Mexico for the American Dream, but soon they realized the real “American Dream” was a romanticized version of the true experience immigrant family’s face.

Soon after they arrived, his father abandoned him and his two siblings, leaving Lorena, his undocumented mother, to raise them alone. Working two jobs to make ends meet, they were often left alone to fend for themselves.

Going to school was optional for his older brother, Danny. The faculty didn’t care if he showed up, and his mother was too busy working to notice his truancy. As a means to help support his family, Danny began dealing drugs but he quickly began consuming more than he was dealing. As a result, he became addicted meth. He was also embroiled in a bad drug deal and was shot over money and territory. He survived but It was his first, and it would be his last battle, or gunshot.

Combating boredom and loneliness, his little sister Claudia also begin hanging out with friends after school. Her spiral began when she became pregnant at fifteen. By eighteen she was the single mother of two boys, thus cementing her place in the cycle of poverty.

As much as Revello tried to stay out of trouble, trouble was inevitable in his future. “I didn’t choose this life; it chose me. We didn’t know anything else,” said Revello. At seventeen, his girlfriend became pregnant and gave him his first son.

Much like Mexico, the only thing his home life in South Central had to offer him, was violence and poverty. Like his parents, Tony grew tired of his surroundings and wanting a better life for himself and his son. He enlisted in the military.

What he didn’t realize when he went overseas was that his home life would mirror his military life, which mirrored the country he fled, “there were so many similarities,” poverty and violence followed him. He doesn’t like to go into details about what he witnessed when he was abroad, but he will say that the senseless acts of violence he saw in the streets were not much different than the ones he participated in during the war.

The military afforded Revello the ability to provide for his son, but it didn’t allow for him to be a presence or a role model in his son’s life. His son now becoming a teenager was beginning to rebel. Afraid of continuing the same cycle, Revello decided to retire from the military after ten years of service.

Currently, his brother is sitting in an ICU unit recovering from a gunshot wound. His sister lives in East Los Angeles with her current boyriend’s parents and their kids.

Revello still deals with PTSD, which started in his childhood and was enhanced in the military. He gets anxiety and doesn’t like to be in loud surroundings. With the help of his friend and VA mentor, he has learned to copy with his stress. He has also gained temporary custody of his son and they have moved to the city of Azusa, where violence and poverty are no longer a part of their lives.

Revello has found his purpose and is using his GI Bill to attend college. He is on track to go to medical school to become a physician.

“I’ve seen people in need my entire life, and I just want to help them.”

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