The word “home” has taken different meanings throughout Marcelino Marquez’s life.
A 27-year Marine veteran, Marquez enlisted in the Marine Corps out of high school in hopes of escaping troubles at home. He’s been off active duty now for three years, spending much of his time back in Dacula with his wife Francis and their three children.
On Friday, June 26, the Marquez Family received the surprise of a lifetime.
The show “Military Makeover with Montel Williams” and special guest WWE superstar and U.S. Marine Lacey Evans revealed the Marquez Family’s fully renovated home.
“It feels phenomenal,” Marcelino Marquez said a few days prior to the reveal. “Other than from my family, I have never felt the kind of love and good will that I’m feeling now from so many people since this all started. For them to choose me, it’s truly been a humbling experience. I don’t think I deserve it, but everybody keeps telling me I do deserve it.”
In the Marine Corps, Marcelino Marquez said he found acceptance from a military family filled with comrades-in-arms. That bond and support carried him through two tours in Okinawa, two tours in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan.
He started as an infantryman, then became a mortar man before shifting to close air support as a Low Altitude Air Defense Gunner. Over time, he rose to one of the highest ranks an enlisted Marine can achieve — Master Gunnery Sergeant.
Marcelino Marquez spent his last five years on active duty assigned to Mortuary Affairs while in Afghanistan, where he recovered the bodies and remains of those killed in action and returned them home.
The most rewarding and harrowing role of his career became honoring the Marine’s creed of “No One Left Behind.” But when he returned home, he continued to struggle with the experiences he encountered while serving in Mortuary Affairs.
The Marquez Family first moved into their Dacula home in 2001. They left for military reasons for a number of years and then moved back in 2012.
The home had so many issues, however, that Marcelino Marquez could not afford to fix them all. “Military Makeover” stepped in and began renovating the home on June 14, despite the ongoing pandemic.
But Marcelino Marquez wanted to use his platform on the show to also give back.
“I was recently given my VA disability for PTSD and one of the reasons I applied for the show was to speak about the need for veterans to get help,” he said. “For me, my biggest PTSD issues stem from 2009, 2010. I really didn’t get help until about a year ago. When I started getting help, I started getting better. Initially, I didn’t tell anyone my problems or my issues and they got worse.”
Marcelino Marquez said he hopes viewers of the show and people in the community are inspired to seek help or to at least talk to their family and friends about their issues.
“It’s hard sharing with your family, but it gets easier,” he said. “You’re not looked upon like you’re weak. I feel like you’re actually stronger because you’re able to share with your family your issues and your problems because that way they can help you. You’re strong by yourself, but when you tackle these problems with your family you’re stronger as a family as well.”
One of the ways Marcelino Marquez has been able to deal with his “demons,” as he calls them, or his post-traumatic stress disorder, is by working out. He said it’s a big stress reliever, but he also enjoys taking computers a part and then putting them back together when he’s not with his wife and children.
Marcelino Marquez always keeps his family in mind. As long as his wife and children feel comfortable and happy, he said he feels at home.
“The love I’m feeling from the community is something I’ve never realized was there,” Marcelino Marquez added. “I just want to say thank you.”
Williams, a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Navy, co-produces “Military Makeover” and works with a cast that seeks to transform the homes and lives of military families across the country.
In a promo for the show, Williams said part of the purpose for the show is to not just talk about doing things for the military, but to actually give back.
“We don’t say, ‘I support the troops’ as a saying, we say it because we understand that we really should be supporting our troops,” Williams said.
The Marquez Family’s story will air in late August through September.