In 1996, at the age of 19, Jose Maldonado enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Military Policeman. Young and eager for a challenge, he took his first plane ride to Fort McClellan, AL, for basic training. Initially assigned to Fort Polk, LA, he served in Panama where the US was turning over facilities to the Panamanian government.  He was one of the last soldiers assigned there before the U.S. Army left.

After being reassigned to Fort Polk (same squad, same people, as if he never left), he deployed to Kosovo and then reenlisted for airborne training. He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, the highlight of his career. He served with the most motivated, determined, crazy, gung-ho group of soldiers in the Army.  9/11 happened during his first week in his new unit and he deployed to Iraq and was severely wounded in 2003.

After a short stint to Fort Sam Houston, TX, he volunteered for an overseas tour and ended up with the 1st Armored Division in Wiesbaden, Germany. Soon after arriving, he deployed to Iraq for 15 months, returned to Germany for a year, only to deploy to Iraq again for 12 months. His last deployment was to Jordan performing antiterrorism duties. After being reassigned to Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, for a year, he decided to retire and moved back home to Texas where his kids would have more stability and be closer to family.

Retired since 2016, Jose has been going to school full time to attain the education he put off during his service. Having received an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice, his next goal is to attain a bachelor’s degree in business. He enjoys spending time with his children and attending local fun runs on the weekends. He rucks with a veteran group that participates in many community events. Being with other veterans and sharing stories has made his transition out of the Army less stressful.

Through the WarriorStrong experience, Jose hopes to experience new challenges, learn new things about himself, and to grow from it, becoming a more humble, caring person and being able to help others who need help. This expedition would put him outside of his comfort zone to experience the positive uncomfortableness of leaving the stress of the world behind.