2023 Veterans Day Speaker Biography
Staff Sergeant Jose Rivera, United States Marines
9/11 affected all Americans, and Staff Sergeant Jose Rivera is no different. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Rivera was working in the Twin Towers with his cousin on that day. They left for work together, but when Rivera realized he had left something at home, he turned around while his cousin boarded the train for work. As soon as Rivera stepped off of the train, he was knocked unconscious by falling debris and taken to the hospital. When he regained consciousness, he aided his family in searching for his cousin, who had been missing since the attack. A few weeks later, a recovery team found part of his finger. That moment was when Jose Rivera decided to join the Marines and fight to protect his fellow countrymen from foreign danger.
After joining the Marines in October 2003, Rivera served several tours in the Middle East and Japan. While he was a Cl. gunner in Iraq, he embarked on a patrol to Camp Timber Wolf. While they were on route to the camp, they were hit with the blast from an IED. This blast threw Rivera to the ground, dislocating his shoulder and severely injuring his ankle. He received 17 surgeries to repair the damage, and still served the Marines in an administrative capacity, eventually becoming a Staff Sergeant.
Last year, SSgt. Rivera’s ankle failed again, tearing through tendons and causing extreme damage. There was nothing else doctors could do to fix the injury and made the decision to amputate the leg entirely. SSgt. Rivera is now married with three children. Their family now resides in San Antonio and enjoys spending time together. They all enjoy going to church, movies, shopping, or anything else they can do to be with each other. SSgt. Rivera had a passion for working out but has not been able to since his surgery. He now spends most of his time in a prosthetic or a wheelchair.