Francisco Rivera describes his decision to join the U.S. Army Reserve for eight additional years as an “easy decision”.
Rivera, 31, was born into a family of military tradition. But, more than that, he stressed that the Army has represented a number of possibilities for him that has allowed him to become the professional he is today.
"I started studying on the civil area, and thanks to the combination of the Army and my studies, I got a civilian job and the change it made in my life has been incredible," said Rivera.
The young man from San Juan was one of the 80 soldiers who enlisted in the Army yesterday to serve additional time. With their determination, the group of Puerto Ricans received bonuses for an average of $ 20,000 each, totaling $ 1.6 million.
However, from October 1 to now, the Army has re-enlisted 221 soldiers for a total of approximately $ 5 million in bonds and funds for the repayment of student loans.
In addition to a recognition of their work and dedication, the economic bonus is a tool to retain part of the talent of professionals serving in various areas and whose work became essential during the response after Hurricane Maria.
"It's to ensure that they, who are professionals and technicians, reach the necessary level to stand out," said Brig. Gen. Dustin Shultz. U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers in Puerto Rico.
"Our soldiers from the Puerto Rico reserve represent the best of us," added Shultz, who was assigned to Puerto Rico in September 2017.
Shultz explained that the bonus is given to members in middle and lower ranks. Among those who received the bonus, there were representatives from the areas of communication, engineering, nursing and finance.
The swearing-in ceremony was held yesterday at Fort Buchanan, in Guaynabo.
"They are soldiers, they are leaders, they are the ones who make the possible the impossible. We want them to pursue their dreams, to take care of their families, to represent the best of the Army," the Commanding General told the Garita Warriors.
Rivera, who works in the finance area, said he will use part of the money to help his parents complete repairs at their home after the damage caused by Hurricane Maria. His parents were left without power until a month and a half ago.
"It was very difficult because you are never ready for this, to see our people going through this ... But we were ready and ready to serve the country," said Rivera, whose father and sister also have a military background.
"It's a great opportunity to help my family who have recently recovered electricity service, but the house is still being repaired; and to continue working for the future of my children," he added.
As part of the finance team of the island´s Army Reserve, both Rivera and Rosangela Tezanos made it possible for the members of the military corps to receive their pay –among other things- after communication lines on the island was interrupted.
Tezanos, a young woman residing in Guaynabo, has personal plans that include completing a PhD in management, as she said at the end of the swearing-in ceremony. Tezanos enlisted for a period of eight more years, after the six she already served.
“The Army has been an essential part of my life to grow. It opens many doors to move forward and gives me knowledge that I might have never had,"said Tezanos.
"Maybe, many people after Maria wanted to help, but they did not have the opportunities to do it. But it was our job for us. I am honored to serve Puerto Rico, our people, where we live, what we need to take care of," she said.
The U.S. Army Reserve has nearly 5,000 members on the island.