After being discharged from the United States Marines, Haverhill resident Anthony Soto faced a dilemma that many new veterans experience.
What do you do for the rest of your life?
Soto looked for a job that could provide for his wife and young son, but found his resumes and job applications routinely rejected. With the help of a friend, he decided to change paths completely and has started a video game development company — from the ground up.
Becoming the founder of a start-up company is something he never expected, especially while going through a tough upbringing in Haverhill.
“Everybody always told me that I couldn’t amount to anything,” said Soto, 28. “Everyone always put things against me. It drove me to prove to everyone I could do it.”
Soto joined the Marines as soon as he graduated from high school in 2004. Just two days after he graduated, he left on a bus to Parris Island, S.C., where he would enroll in a rigorous boot camp.
Soto found a niche in the Marines as an air conditioning mechanic. He was deployed to several places, including a base in Japan and eventually to Iraq in 2008. He was in Iraq for nearly a year and while there, he became popular among the soldiers who were in extreme heat all day long.
“I was always a happy sight for people to see,” Soto said. “People were always excited to see the air conditioning guy arrive.”
Soto fixed air conditioners and refrigerators for Marines and soldiers, both Americans and Iraqis. It gave him a feeling he hadn’t quite experienced before.
“It felt good to improve the quality of people’s lives,” Soto said. “It was extremely rewarding.”
Soto stayed in the Marine Corps until 2008. He then worked as an air conditioning technician for a company in Norwell for six months, but left a short time later when the company was having financial troubles.