Warrior Games Profile: Ricardo Rivera

  • Published
  • By Alexx Pons
  • Air Force Wounded Warrior Program
As the 2018 Warrior Games competition begins to wind down here, we caught up with retired Tech. Sgt. Ricardo Rivera to talk about not just how these adaptive sports have helped promote in his personal recovery, but also how the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program has been there every step of the way. 

Rivera began his career in 2006 as a security forces defender, later retraining into services and once more into intelligence systems analysis. 

Over the course of his 11-year-career, Rivera served at Camp Bucca, Iraq, tasked with providing security for detainees. This placed him in direct contact with known enemies of the U.S., and created a chaotic, hostile environment for the then young Airman. Years followed by other traumatic experiences would lead to a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis. 

“It was not until I was introduced to this program (AFW2) and Warrior Games that I found hope; I needed a new focus and outlet to channel my energy and I found that here with these amazing people and this incredible mission,” Rivera said. 

How has being a part of AFW2 redefined your view of community and family within the Air Force? 
The Air Force has always made me feel like I was part of family, and AFW2 has certainly follow that tradition. Meeting fellow warriors through this program has been the best part of this experience and it has helped me maintain a powerful sense of community even after retirement with that Air Force family.

Can you explain how it feels to represent the Air Force in these games? 
It is an honor and so humbling to represent the Air Force on such a big and unique stage like Warrior Games. Competing against other athletes from our sister services and allied armed forces has been an incredible experience for me; certainly, one I will never forget. 

What changes have you seen within yourself through adaptive sports?
Through AFW2 I have been exposed to sports I never thought I was good enough to try, much less compete in. However, through the adaptive sports program I have been able to tackle new challenges like swimming and cycling which have had an incredible and positive impact in my physical and mental wellbeing.

With the Warrior Games being such a highly publicized event, how does it feel to have the support and encouragement from Air Force senior leaders and Airmen across the Air Force?
I am still baffled by the incredible amount of support we are getting across all levels, but specially from senior leaders like Gen. Goldfein, Gen. Schwartz, and the many other senior leaders and influencers. We know they all have extremely busy schedules and the fact that they take the time to meet with us and our families during this competition is amazing; it makes us feel valued and unforgotten. 

You and the other AFW2 athletes have a unique platform to be a face of recovery... how does it feel knowing that what you have endured and overcome is inspiration for others across the Department of Defense on their own road to recovery?
All the warriors in the program have incredible and inspirational stories; they are the ones who inspire me to keep pushing forward to overcome my daily struggles. I feel blessed to stand alongside them and share my story in the hope of helping others, who might need to, find the help and support they need.

Anyone can refer an active-duty Airman into the AFW2 program; download the worksheet by clicking the button below and submit the finalized form via email.


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AFW2 Program Mailing Address

  • ATTN: AFW2
  • 550 C St. West, Ste. 37
  • JBSA Randolph TX
  • 78150-4739