In 2004, Rivera enlisted as active duty It isn't easy to balance a military and musical career He has helped raise $5,000 for charity
SrA. Victor Rivera, 439th Logistics Readiness Squadron, performs routine vehicle maintenance inside Hangar 3 at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass., Jan. 9, 2013. Rivera enlisted with the Air Force straight out of high school to gain structure and discipline and has since began his career as a singer-songwriter. (U.S. Air Force photo/SrA. Alexander Brown)
by SrA. Charles Hutchinson
439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
2/25/2013 - WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- "I'm an Airman," said SrA. Victor Rivera, 439th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintainer, during a recent interview. "I'm also an entertainer."
In 2004, a 20-year-old Rivera said he wanted to do something different with his life. He didn't want to get caught up in the negativity that often comes with being in the music industry at such a young age, so he decided to go into the Air Force straight out of high school and gain some stability and discipline. He signed a four-year active duty contract. After basic training, and technical school, Rivera was stationed at Seymour- Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., before joining the reserve. He finished his coommitment and focused solely on his music.
Rivera started singing about 10 years ago, and as a disc jockey in Boston, he got a sense of what the people wanted to hear.
"Being a D.J. put me in place to be open-minded to music," he said.
In uniform, he looks like an ordinary airman, but once he puts on his designer jeans, V-neck shirt and thick black sunglasses, the entertainer in him comes out. His passionate lyrics come through with a smooth beat in the background, and it feels like he is singing directly to you.
SrA. Rivera said it isn't easy to balance a military and musical career.
"It was very difficult when I was on active duty," said the urban Latin singer. "Once I completed my four years, I came back to Boston fromNorth Carolina and worked on my first record. The structure and discipline acquired from my military service enabled me to utilize those attributes towards my musical
These days, he strives for balance.
"As far as balancing both my music and military careers, I treat them the same," he said. "I consider my UTA weekends and annual tour as being booked for those dates when I am proudly under contract to perform my designated tasks as a vehicle maintainer."
SrA. Rivera used his time in active duty to his advantage. "Being in the military has actually enabled me to expand my network by introducing my music to the different places I go," he said. "It also provides me with the time and distance needed away from the busy lifestyle as an artist to create and compose wonderful songs."
During technical school at Naval Base Ventura County, Calif., he made many contacts. He credits a lot of the contacts and networking he has done to the Air Force. Seven years later, he returned and did a show in Oxnard, Calif., in November.
With aspirations to become a well-known artist, some people might think that SrA. Rivera would focus solely on his musical endeavors. That's been far from the case.
"During my first year out of the military, I began to miss the structure and overall proud feeling of wearing the uniform. I returned, so that I could accomplish my personal (musical) goals."
Also a songwriter, he recently signed with Inthemix Record Label, and also signed a multi-song contract with Grammy award winner Richy Pena to write tracks for various artists.
SrA. Rivera's most recent single "Decir lo Siento" meaning "To Say I'm sorry," off his CD "Just Vinny" is being aired in the Springfield and Hartford radio market as well as in parts of Spain.
Rather than the money or fame, the real motivator in the music industry is the chance to help people. "Music is a way for me to be able to do more humanitarian work, and that's my ultimate goal," he said.
Since the start of his career, SrA. Rivera has performed in multiple charity events benefiting causes such as autism and also a program which supports the building of schools in places like the Dominican Republic.
He has helped raise $5,000 for charity in two concerts.
His music can be heard by visiting facebook.com/vinnyriveraofficial.